Tuesday 1 October



As part of Stoptober West Yorkshire Trading Standards and partner agencies have carried out a number of inspections at premises suspected of selling cheap and illicit tobacco. Seizures of thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco were made along with two vehicles that were being used to store illegal tobacco.

The inspections were part of The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, part funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire. This initiative is helping people to stop tobacco use for good, educating the public and 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.


To date, the Trading Standards team has taken more than 5 million illegal cigarettes and over 1 tonne of illegal hand rolling tobacco off the streets. More inspections are planned in West Yorkshire over the coming weeks.


Stoptober is the 28-day national stop smoking challenge.  Stopping smoking for 28 days means you are five times more likely to stop for good. Last year thousands of people successfully quit. Since its launch, more than 1 million people have used Stoptober to quit smoking.


Latest figures from Public Health England suggest just over 14% of people were smoking in 2018, down from 21% in 2007, when the smoking ban was introduced and over 26% at the turn of the century.


Illegal cigarettes and tobacco are usually sold at a fraction of the price in a range of locations such as pubs, clubs, shops, private houses and even by street hawkers.  Illegal tobacco undermines the age and price restrictions placed on tobacco and also encourages people to continue smoking. The supply chains are linked to organised crime and contribute 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, fearing harm to themselves or their families.


David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said “The work of our tobacco team is making a significant impact on the illegal supply chain across West Yorkshire, with over 5 million cigarettes removed from the market place.  Nevertheless, illegal tobacco sales are still a problem. Whilst 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.”


Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Governance and Audit Sub-Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said, “Campaigns such as Stoptober are a great way for people to support each other. As you’ll find there are many people out there who want to quit but find it difficult.  Highlighting the health and financial benefits of quitting tobacco use, as well as tackling those that undermine it by supplying cheap and illicit tobacco, is a brilliant and proactive way of spreading the message. If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illegal tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000.”

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