Partnership Work Results In Huge Seizure

Friday 18 December

An operation between West Yorkshire Trading Standards and West Yorkshire Police from Bradford East and West targeting dealers of cheap and illicit tobacco resulted in a seizure of more than 210,000 cigarettes. If genuine, the value of the cigarettes seized would be over £100,000 with a loss of duty to the tax payer of more than £60,000. A large quantity of cash was also seized, believed to be the proceeds of crime from the sales of illicit tobacco.

A total of 4 premises were visited across Bradford in which illegal practices were taking place. The operation targeted hot spot areas and businesses identified from intelligence and complaints passed to West Yorkshire Trading Standards by members of the public and partner agencies.

Illicit tobacco was hidden in a chair, in a hydraulic concealment built in to the wall and in vehicles as well as a nearby house.

The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, funded by the five Public Health departments, is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The initiative uses multi-agency enforcement and community marketing campaigns to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.

To date the programme has taken nearly 7 million illicit cigarettes and two and half tonnes of illicit hand rolling tobacco off the streets of West Yorkshire. With more inspections planned in the coming weeks, these figures are set to increase. Training sessions with thousands of members of the public and hundreds of front line professionals have been delivered to raise awareness about the dangers and wider criminality associated with the supply of illicit tobacco.

Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “Although a lot has been achieved, illegal tobacco is still a problem. While all smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at “pocket money prices‟; making it easy for children to start. It also encourages other crimes in our communities. It is 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.”

Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Governance and Audit Sub-Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “Smoking rates in the UK are declining. Reducing the supply and demand of illegal tobacco is one important element of a comprehensive approach to tackling tobacco harm in communities. It is key to addressing smoking-related health inequalities and poverty, playing a key role in preventing young people from starting to smoke. I would like to thank all the partners and 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.”

Richard Bedford, Police Sergeant said, “Officers from Bradford East and West Neighbourhood Policing Team, working in partnership with West Yorkshire Trading Standards, attended a number of premises and seized thousands of illegal cigarettes. This will help to disrupt local organised crime groups and is a great example of successful partnership work.”

If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit 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 website and anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at

https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree