Fresh appeal for residents to help children stop smoking
Residents are being encouraged to help stop kids from smoking by reporting illegal tobacco sales.
Figures show around one in 10 cigarettes smoked in the North East is illegal – with private homes or “tab houses” and dishonest shops the two leading illicit sources for buyers.
And around one in six smokers buy illegal tobacco – slightly fewer than the one in four smokers who were buying it back in 2009.
The figures are from a new survey released by Fresh which has tracked the size and scale of the illegal tobacco market over the past decade.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “Tackling illegal tobacco is part of wider efforts to help make smoking history for future generations and to help them avoid the misery of a smoking-caused disease such as lung cancer or COPD.
“15 people a day die from smoking in the North East and that is whether they smoke legal or illegal tobacco.
“Price is the best policy to help reduce smoking – especially preventing younger people from starting – and illegal tobacco undercuts this.
“Nobody wants our children to smoke, but people who sell illegal tobacco usually don’t care who they sell to and there are regular reports of kids buying it and dealers selling to them.
“That is why we have seen thousands of people giving information about local illegal tobacco sales and why most people see it as a danger rather than a victimless crime.”
She added: “It is encouraging to see the proportion of smokers buying and smoking illegal tobacco has decreased since 2009. However, we know illegal tobacco is more of a problem in some parts of our towns and cities and that it is fuelling the addiction of smokers, pushing the health risks ever-closer and getting young people hooked.”
Coun Margaret Hall, Cabinet Member responsible for Public Health and Wellbeing at North Tyneside Council, said: “We rely on residents letting us know about suspected illegal tobacco sales in their community and we always act on what people tell us.
“We’d like to thank everyone who lets us know about suspected illegal tobacco sales – we take all reports very seriously and will always prosecute the perpetrators.
“Illegal tobacco harms our neighbourhoods by bringing crime into our communities and enabling children to access cheap tobacco and take up smoking.
“Cheaper tobacco also makes it harder for smokers to quit, resulting in long-term serious health risks.
“As part of the keep It Out Campaign, officers will target premises where illegal tobacco is being sold.
“We encourage residents not to buy illegal tobacco and call 0300 999 000 or visit keep-it-out.co.uk to report where it is being sold.”