Trading Standards, Public Health and experts from the Stop Smoking Service, CAMQUIT are to join an Illegal Tobacco Unit as it visits towns across the county in an effort to raise awareness of the risks of illicit cigarettes and tobacco.
Members of the public can see Illegal Tobacco Unit sniffer dogs in action during the roadshow, demonstrating the skills used to help Trading Standards detect hidden illicit tobacco. Sellers of illegal tobacco target vulnerable communities where a large number of people smoke and have poorer health. Illegal cigarettes are often sold in ones or twos making them affordable for children and young people. Illegal tobacco has strong links with crime and criminal gangs, so many of the people smuggling, distributing and selling it are involved in drug dealing, money laundering and people trafficking.
Those visiting the roadshow will learn about the dangers of illegal tobacco and be shown how to spot it in their communities. The Illegal Tobacco Unit will visit a number of town marketplaces later this month, as follows:
Monday 19th September "“ Huntingdon (9.30am "“ 12.30pm) / St Ives (1pm "“ 4pm)
Tuesday 20th September (9.30am "“ 4pm) "“ Wisbech
Wednesday 21st September (9.30am "“ 4pm) "“ March
Thursday 22nd September (9.30am "“ 4pm) "“ Ely
Friday 23rd September (9.30am "“ 4pm) "“ St Neots
Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "We would encourage members of the public to visit the Illegal Tobacco Unit as it tours the county. There will be lots of useful information on the health risks of smoking and the dangers of illegal tobacco. Smoking remains one of the biggest risks for health and these cheap cigarettes may encourage more people to smoke. Children and young people are particularly at risk as they are often targeted by sellers. It is important that people avoid these illegal products at all costs to discourage them being sold in their communities."
Emma Butterfield, Trading Standards Officer for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "The sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco takes money from the taxpayer. This is money which could be spent on important services such as hospitals. We'd encourage anyone who has any knowledge of suspected involvement of selling illegal tobacco to report it to Cambridgeshire Trading Standards (0345 4040 506). Reports can be made anonymously."
Trading Standards recently seized over 25,000 cigarettes and 7.5kg of rolling tobacco as part of a joint operation in Cambridgeshire to tackle the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco. The raids took place using tobacco detection dogs in March 2016.