As part of No Smoking Day 2020, West Yorkshire Trading Standards in partnership with Neighbourhood Policing Teams from West Yorkshire Police and local council licensing teams carried out a series of raids on premises suspected of supplying illicit tobacco in Kirklees, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield. The week long operation resulted in the seizure of more than 50,000 illicit cigarettes, 15kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco and the seizure of a quantity of cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime. The operation also resulted in the arrests of 2 nominals for the supply of illicit tobacco who have now been bailed pending further enquiries. If genuine, the haul would have been worth more than £32,000.
No Smoking Day is one of the UK’s biggest health awareness campaigns that provides a supportive environment to quit smoking and highlights the many sources of help and advice available to smokers who want to give up the habit. Stopping smoking for 28 days means you are five times more likely to stop for good and last year thousands of people successfully quit.
The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme which is funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire, is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The programme utilises marketing campaigns and multi-agency enforcement to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.
Illegal Tobacco is often less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco, and this maintains smokers in their habit and encourages young people to start smoking. Illegal Tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people to start smoking and severely impacts genuine businesses by undercutting them. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth billions of pounds. Victims of human trafficking are often being forced to sell these illegal products in order to pay off debts or fearing harm to themselves or their families.
Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “All tobacco – both legal and illegal – kills half of all long term smokers. Children and young smokers are often targeted by people who sell illegal cigarettes, making it even easier for them to get hooked on smoking. The people making money out of this do not care who they sell to.”
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Governance and Audit Sub-Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said “The illegal sale of tobacco in communities enables and encourages young children to buy it cheaply. It is really great that so many partners are working to tackle traders that break the law. I would like to thank members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”
If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illegal tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/ anonymously.
More information about the campaign can be found on the NHS website and anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at