Roadshows to raise awareness of illegal tobacco trade set to take place

Roadshows will be taking place in South Tyneside next week in a bid to raise awareness among South Tynesiders of the consequences of illegal tobacco.

By David Allison
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 11:42
Councillor Joan Atkinson with Stuart Wright, Senior Development Services Manager at South Tyneside Council.

The first roadshow will be on Wednesday at the Viking Centre (near Morrison’s) in Jarrow and another will be at the crossroads of King Street/Ocean Road in South Shields on Thursday.

Both events will run between 9.30am and 3.30pm.

Sniffer dogs will be demonstrating their skills while officers will be on hand to offer help and advice to those who want to stop smoking as well as highlight the dangers of ‘tab houses.’

Bootlegged or fake tobacco is common in the North East and is often linked to criminals and brings crime into the community as the profits are used to launder money.

People supplying it locally are often involved in drugs or loan sharking and use the profits to launder money.

The supply of illicit tobacco allows children easier access to cigarettes and can encourage them to start smoking which has a major impact on their long term health.

Buying it means supporting crime and can bring children into contact with criminals.

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Councillor Joan Atkinson, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime.

"Dealers often target children and young people, putting them at risk of developing a harmful addiction.

“We know from the 2017 North East Illegal Tobacco Survey that 55 % of children aged 14-15 who smoke say they buy illegal tobacco from sources like "tab houses" and shops while 73% say they have been offered illegal tobacco.

“Cheap tobacco encourages smokers to keep smoking and to smoke more, and can break down their willpower to quit. It robs our local hospitals and schools of money for vital services so for all these reasons I would encourage anyone with any information about illegal tobacco products to contact our Trading Standards team.”

Anyone with any information about sellers of illicit tobacco can report it anonymously to the Illegal Tobacco Hotline 0300 999 0000 or online at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/

Alternatively people can report directly to Trading Standards by calling Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 4 040506.