Stay Safe – Beware of Illegal Tobacco, Drugs and Alcohol

Illicit tobacco

Not all cigarettes are sold legally in the UK. There are big profits to be made by criminal and other organisations who bring cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco into the country by a variety of hidden means to avoid the high tax. This allows them to sell the tobacco very cheaply from places such as domestic homes, public houses, car boot sales and workplaces. These illegal ( illicit) cigarettes fall in to one of the following groups;

  • Counterfeit
  • These are fake cigarettes packed to make them look like the genuine brand of cigarette or hand rolled tobacco pouch they are copying. They can be difficult to spot from the genuine packets but may have poor print quality or different size lettering or have health warnings and pictures missing.
  • Smuggled
  • These are brands of cigarettes not available in shops in the UK that are made very cheaply in countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere and smuggled in through ports and airports. Typical brands include Jin Ling, L&M, Marble , Raquel, Richman and Bon.
  • Bootlegged
  • These are popular UK brands of cigarettes that are bought abroad from a country of low taxation and brought into the country hidden in baggage or as duty frees and sold . These can usually be recognised by foreign health warnings, no pictorial messages and no UK DUTY PAID mark.

How big is the problem?

Since 2000, 4 billion cigarettes and 1000 tonnes of hand rolled tobacco being brought in to the UK illegally has been seized by HM Revenue and Customs. 370 criminal gangs have been caught and over 2000 people prosecuted.

Despite all of the efforts at UK borders to keep out illicit tobacco, it is known that almost 1 in 7 cigarettes smoked in the UK this year will have been brought into the country and sold illegally.

Why is it such an issue?

Illicit tobacco sellers don’t care who they sell to as their only interest is making money – they often target young people who are attracted by the cheap price and ready availability. It therefore encourages many young people to start smoking and help those who have started to smoke more. Illicit tobacco sellers usually target poor and disadvantaged communities where they know people have more difficulty in affording to buy cigarettes from genuine retail outlets.

Illicit tobacco is often linked to organised crime and many of the traders also deal in drugs, alcohol and money laundering.

It puts retail shops out of business as they can’t compete with the cheaper prices of illicit tobacco. On average, a packet of 20 cigarettes bought in a shop in the UK is between £5.50 and £6.50 whereas a packet of 20 illicit cigarettes will cost between £2.50 and £3.50.

Is illicit tobacco more harmful to health?

Smoking of any tobacco whether genuine or counterfeit is harmful to health. Illicit cigarettes are however often produced using poorer quality tobacco and in factories with poor hygiene which makes them more likely to be contaminated with foreign materials.

How would I recognise illegal tobacco?

Genuine, legal packets of cigarettes or hand rolled tobacco should have the following:

  • There should be wording that says in capital letters UK DUTY PAID on the packs
  • On the front of the packet, there should be a message that says either: “Smoking seriously harms you and others around you” or “Smoking kills”
  • On the back of the packet, there should be a pictorial health warning.
  • All wording on the packet should be in English

What should I do if I want to report someone selling illegal cigarettes?

If you have any information or want some advice on illegal tobacco, please contact North East Lincolnshire Council Trading Standards on 01472 324807 or text ‘CIGS’ to 82055.

Alternatively, you can ring Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or you can complete an anonymous online form on the Crime Stoppers website – click here.

Tobacco Control – how to help people quit for good

Swapping cigarettes for their electronic alternatives

Smoking can be incredibly addictive and you might have found yourself hooked almost as soon as you picked up your first cigarette. The trouble is, over time, traditional cigarettes can really take their toll on your health.

Trying to kick the habit altogether can prove too difficult for many people, but there is an alternative. E-cigarette products might be just what you’re after to quit.

It is safer

You can choose between nicotine containing and nicotine free cartridges. While nicotine is addictive, it does not itself cause cancer. Meanwhile, the ‘smoke’ released from these items is much safer to people around you than the smoke from tobacco cigarettes. Find out what nicotine liquids are available.

Take a look at this smoking challenge to help you quit for good.

Quit smoking for good with e-cigarettes

Tobacco Control

The Smokefree Alliance have developed a new draft Tobacco Control Strategy for 2019.

The Plan focuses on 4 key areas:

  • Reducing the number of young people take up smoking

Very few 12 and 13 year olds smoke (ie only about 1 in 100) but smoking rates increase significantly after this age such that one in four 16 year old girls and one in seven 16 year old boys smoke.

Three quarters of young people who smoke live with at least one regular smoker in their household.

Many young people live within families where smoking has been the norm for many generations. School based interventions are having some impact, but a comprehensive approach is required to de-normalise smoking, change beliefs and promote the positive benefits of not smoking. Dangers of smoking.

  • Getting more people to successfully quit smoking

Two out of every three smokers say that they want to quit and three quarters of them will have tried to stop at some time. Success Stories.

Most people need support to make a successful quit attempt and they also need Smoking Cessation Services to be accessible at a time and place to suit them.

Everyone is different in the type and amount of support they require to quit and our services have become increasingly flexible to accommodate varying needs.

The Smokefree Regulations introduced in July 2007 have led to a huge reduction in the exposure to second hand smoke in pubs, clubs, cafes, shops, offices and other workplaces.

Many children are still however exposed to second hand smoke in the home, in cars and in other areas such as playgrounds. More can be done to encourage people to make these environments smoke free.

An additional benefit of not smoking in the home would be to reduce house fires as cigarettes are the greatest cause of house fires in England being responsible for over 100 deaths and 1000 injuries per year.

  • Reducing the availability and demand for illicit tobacco

The ready supply of cheap smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco in the area makes it easier for young people to take up smoking and smoke more often.

Its widespread availability in poorer areas encourages adults to smoke more and be less likely to quit. Illicit tobacco is also associated with crime and has a damaging effect on genuine local retailers.

Are you addicted?

Addiction Quiz

If you have already decided to quit, or just thinking about it, complete this short questionnaire to help work out your level of addiction.

Q1. Which of the following best describes you?

A contented smoker
A smoker who would like to stop
A social smoker i.e. very infrequently
A non-smoker

Q2. How many cigarettes do you smoke each day?

More than 20?
Between 11 and 20?
Between 1 and 10?

Q3. After you wake, when do you smoke your first cigarette?

Within five minutes?
Within half an hour?
Within an hour?
I don’t

Q4. Do you find it difficult not to smoke in places like cinemas, buses or restaurants?

Yes, I do
Sometimes I do
Not at all

Q5. If you are ill in bed, would you still smoke?

Yes, just as normal
Yes, but not as much as normal