Trading Standards and Public Health Colleagues Highly Commended For Prestigious MJ Award

Monday 5 October

Trading Standards and Public Health Colleagues Highly Commended For Prestigious MJ Award

West Yorkshire Trading Standards and the five Public Health departments of West Yorkshire were Highly Commended for their Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme at The Municipal Journal (MJ) Awards 2020.

The MJ awards were held virtually this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic. West Yorkshire Trading Standards’ Cheap and Illicit Tobacco work had been shortlisted in the Public Health Improvement category of the awards. Applications number in the hundreds every year, which are then whittled down to a shortlist of 6, judged by influential commentators from the private and public sectors. The presenter of the awards referred to the highly commended application from Trading Standards as “Superb”.

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 6 million illegal cigarettes and 2 tonnes of illegal 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.

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. 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, “It is a great achievement for all those involved to be highly commended at the MJ Awards. We are thrilled as it is acknowledgement for all the hard work of all the partners involved. The work of Trading Standards plays an important role in helping to prevent smoking and reduce the risks for smokers of heart disease, stroke and cancer. We want to see health improvements in this county and with disadvantaged communities and young people often the target of this cheap tobacco, it does not encourage people to quit. To be highly commended from hundreds of applications is recognition of the impact of the project.”

Councillor Les Shaw, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services 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 and I am delighted that this has been recognised by the MJ Awards. Congratulations to the team at Trading Standards and their colleagues from the 5 public health teams. It is an outstanding achievement to be highly commended and shows what partnership work can achieve. 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 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