Hackney,
12
July
2019
|
14:34
Europe/London

13,700 cigarettes seized in campaign against illegal tobacco

The+illegal+tobacco+find

13,700 cigarettes were seized by Hackney Council in a raid on a Hoxton shop last month as part of a clampdown on illegal tobacco. 

Trading standards officers made the discovery with the help of sniffer dog Pippa, who found the cigarettes alongside 129 illegal packets of loose tobacco stashed away in a sink unit and under the shop’s chocolate bar stand. 

The shop’s owner will now face prosecution for the sale of tobacco. 

Illegal tobacco has all the harmful properties of legal tobacco, but is also completely unregulated, and often sold much cheaper than legal tobacco. Many smokers say that being able to buy it cheaply makes it harder for them to quit. 

The sale of cheap or illegal tobacco also makes it easier for children and young people to start smoking and get hooked at a young age. This damages their health and brings them into contact with criminals. 

As part of its clampdown, the Council will be hosting an illegal tobacco roadshow at 10am-4pm on Tuesday 16 July at Tesco, Morning Lane, where residents can find out more about illegal tobacco, why it’s a problem and how to report premises that sell it. 

Trading Standards and Public Health officers will be doing surveys with the public to find out how much people know about the illegal trade and their attitudes towards it. 

Cllr Caroline Selman, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Policy, and the Voluntary Sector
Illegal tobacco is heavily linked with organised crime and harms businesses who are trading legally. We’re working hard to crack down on businesses selling illegal tobacco who will face action if they are caught.
Cllr Caroline Selman, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Policy, and the Voluntary Sector
Cllr Feryal Clark, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care, Transport and Parks
The sale of illegal tobacco has a huge impact on people’s health, making it easier for children to get hooked on tobacco and harder for people to quit. The roadshow is a great opportunity to highlight the dangers of illegal tobacco, and for people to get advice on how to stop smoking.
Cllr Feryal Clark, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care, Transport and Parks

More information can be found at news.hackney.gov.uk/illegaltobacco. Anyone who suspects a business of selling illegal tobacco can email trading.standards@hackney.gov.uk,  call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or report it online at www.londontradingstandards.org.uk/report-consumer-crime.

More information

Cheap or illegal tobacco is unregulated, untaxed and available at pocket-money prices. Research suggests around 15 per cent of cigarettes smoked in London and 30 per cent of hand rolled tobacco come from the illicit trade, with illegal tobacco sold in a range of locations across London – including private homes, pubs, and shops. Many of the criminals smuggling and selling illegal tobacco are also involved in drug dealing, money laundering, and people trafficking. 

What is illegal tobacco?

There are three types of illegal tobacco:

  1. Smuggled, non-duty paid or bootlegged tobacco, which often includes packets with foreign language health warnings and no health warning pictures. They often cost between £5 - £7 per pack of 20

  2. Counterfeit or fake tobacco, which looks like well-known tobacco brands but is manufactured illegally. These can be produced in the UK but more often are smuggled into the country. They can cost from £5 per packet.

  3. ‘Cheap’ whites, which are foreign brands lawfully produced in one country but intended for smuggling into another. They are illegally sold in the UK. The most well-known brand is Jin Ling and can be as cheap as £3.50 per packet.

It is also illegal to sell single cigarettes, the cost of which is much lower than buying a full pack, making it harder for people to give up smoking and easier for children to start. 

What’s wrong with illegal tobacco?

Illegal tobacco has all the harmful properties of legal tobacco, but is also completely unregulated, and often sold much cheaper than legal tobacco. Many smokers say that being able to buy it cheaply makes it harder for them to quit.

The sale of cheap or illegal tobacco also makes it easier for children and young people to start smoking and get hooked at a young age. This damages their health and brings them into contact with criminals.

Some illegal cigarettes are not fire safe - as, unlike legal cigarettes, they do not extinguish by themselves if left unattended, making them much more likely to cause a fire. 

How do I recognise illegal tobacco?

The telltale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • Packets with no picture health warnings

  • Packets with foreign language health warnings

  • Stock kept out of sight in shops and away from the regular tobacco display cabinet

  • Its low cost compared to normal cigarettes. For example, a pack of 20 illegal cigarettes can cost as little as £3.50 - £5.

  • Unusual or foreign brand names

  • Availability in unusual locations, such as pubs, market stalls, ice cream or fast food vans, outside shops, private homes, and high footfall areas.

  • Selling single cigarettes, often to children.

How do I report it?

If you see illegal tobacco or single cigarettes being sold, report it by contacting Hackney Council Trading Standards on 020 8356 4929 (choose option 2) or trading.standards@hackney.gov.uk.

You can also call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or report it online at www.londontradingstandards.org.uk/report-consumer-crime

What happens when a premises gets caught selling illegal tobacco or single cigarettes?

There are a number of outcomes when a premises gets caught selling illegal tobacco or ‘singles’. These include:

  • A review of the premises licence, which could lead to it being revoked

  • A formal caution and a requirement to do a training course

  • Prosecution, which could result in an unlimited fine or imprisonment.

What is the Council doing to stop the sale of illegal tobacco?

We work with London Trading Standards to target the sale of illegal tobacco, raiding shops suspected of selling it, carrying out test purchasing and inspections and working with the police and HMRC to seize it.

Every year, supported by London Councils, London Trading Standards, the Greater London Authority, Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health and the London Association of Directors of Public Health we participate in the annual Illegal Tobacco Campaign, running roadshows highlighting the harms of illegal tobacco to residents. Find out more at: http://www.londontradingstandards.org.uk/campaigns/illegal-tobacco-campaign-2019/. 

Can I get help to stop smoking?

If you work, live or study in Hackney, you can get help to stop smoking from our Stop Smoking Service, which offers one to one behavioural support and medication in a range of locations across the borough. These include GP practices, local pharmacies, Homerton Hospital, and a number of community locations.

You can also get information and advice over the phone. For more information go to www.smokefreehackney.org or call 0800 0469946 or email smokefreehackney@nhs.net.