Trading standards chiefs are on the case in a bid to stub out illegal cigarette sales in South Tyneside.
Council bosses say they are working on a number of potential prosecutions after a telephone hotline for tip off was set up to tackle dealers running “tab houses” and selling cigarettes and tobacco in pubs and clubs.
Out of 350 tip-offs to the Illegal Tobacco Hotline, in the North East, 15 sparked investigations in South Tyneside
A council spokesman said: “The regional campaign resulted in 15 reports about illegal tobacco in the South Tyneside area.
“All reports have been assessed and enquiries are ongoing. Although we cannot comment on individual investigations at the present time, further action is anticipated in appropriate cases.”
He added: “Previous work to tackle illegal tobacco sales in South Tyneside resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco and the prosecution of those responsible.
Previous work to tackle illegal tobacco sales in South Tyneside resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco and the prosecution of those responsible.Council Spokesman
“We would encourage anyone with information about illegal sales to report it.
According to figures by anti-smoking group Fresh, private addresses are the leading source for illegal tobacco sales - 42%. This compares to 24% of the illegal market based in shops
The regional Keep It Out campaign and telephone hotline was set up in November with the aim of cracking down on the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and has led to a number of operations being launched into those breaking the law. -
The move is part of the Keep It Out campaign launched by Fresh - a regional programme for tobacco control set up to tackle the high toll of death and disease caused by smoking.
Across the region, the hotline and website has received over 350 anonymous pieces of information about illegal tobacco sales and dealers.
Keep It Out highlights how illegal tobacco gets children hooked on smoking and brings crime into local communities.
Smoking has decreased in the North East from 29% of people smoking in 2005 to 17.2% in 2016.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “We are delighted to see this campaign making people think twice about buying and selling illegal tobacco, and to see hundreds of pieces of information coming through. We know most people do not want illegal tobacco in their local community.
“We worked with Trading Standards colleagues and with smokers all over the North of England to explore people’s understanding of the issues and find out what concerns members of the public the most about illegal tobacco sales.
“All tobacco – legal and illegal - kills one in two smokers and nobody wants their child to start smoking. The best way to reduce illegal tobacco on our streets is through concerted efforts to reduce smoking.”
Anyone with information can report it anonymously at http://keep-it-out.co.uk/ or call the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 000.