“курiння призводить до серцево-судинних захворювань та раку легенiв” – that’s the only health warning some Tameside and Glossop youngsters are likely to see on cigarette packets thanks to illegal imports on the streets in the region.
Tobacco barons in Russia and China are helping recruit a new generation of smokers through mass manufactured imports and hand rolled tobacco with either no health warnings at all, or written in Ukrainian, Russian, Chinese or Danish.
In the last six months more than 17 million cigarettes and nearly 2,000kg of other tobacco products – including hand rolled tobacco – have been seized by police, HMRC and trading standards in the North West alone. Trading Standards say brands like Jin Ling, which is manufactured exclusively to be smuggled, and hand rolled tobacco and are now what they most often find in raids on local ‘fag’ or ‘tab’ houses, pubs or shops.
Many of these brands are mass-manufactured in overseas factories purely for the black market. But they lack the shocking graphic warnings that smoking causes lung cancer, mouth cancer and a raft of other horrific diseases that have helped motivate many smokers to quit and stop young people from starting to smoke.
As the ‘’Get Some Answers’’ advertising campaign launches again across the region, residents are being urged to phone Crimestoppers in complete anonymity on 0800 555111 if illegal tobacco is being sold near them.
Deputy Director of Public Health for NHS Tameside and Glossop Elaine Michel says “Tobacco sales in this country are now tightly regulated so people do at least receive a full warning about the health risks they are exposing themselves to. None of this applies to illegal tobacco, so the danger for young people taking up the habit is even greater. If you buy illegal tobacco you are funding this deadly trade, and increasing the risks for young people across Tameside and Glossop.”
Andrea Crossfield, Director of Smokefree North West, which helped set up the North of England Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme to bring together the NHS, local authorities, HM Revenue and Customs and police to tackle the problem, said: “The graphic health warnings on tobacco have shown how horrific and disfiguring many smoking-related diseases like lung cancer and mouth cancer are. All tobacco is deadly, with half of long term users dying of a smoking related disease, so it’s a real worry that a teenager in Tameside and Glossop can buy a packet of illegal cigarettes and get no health warning at all.”
“The sellers have no morals. They will even sell single cigarettes to children, and every parent should be concerned if illegal tobacco traders are operating in their area.”
Peter Astley, of Trading Standards North West, said: “If tobacco’s on sale very cheap it’s illegal, and this isn’t a victimless crime. Buyers might think they’re getting a bargain but it’s not a good deal because it’s an evil trade with links to a lot of other criminal activity such as other forms of counterfeiting, drug dealing and even people trafficking. I’d urge people to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they know about illegal tobacco trading in their area.”
“When we seize illegal tobacco, it is often hand rolled tobacco or brands like Jin Ling which are mass manufactured purely for the illegal market.”
HM Revenue and Customs estimate that around 11% of cigarettes and 49%t of hand rolled tobacco is now illegal.
The “Get Some Answers” campaign has brought together Smokefree North West, police, trading standards officers, HMRC and front line health professionals committed to tackling smoking.
A major survey across the North of England found that:
· 9 out of 10 people think illegal tobacco is a danger to children
· 6 out of 10 said it brought crime into local communities
· 62 percent of those who bought illegal tobacco said it enabled them to smoke when they couldn’t otherwise afford to.
Anyone with information about people dealing in illegal tobacco can pass it on completely anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
For people who are smokers and who want to give up, NHS Tameside and Glossop’s Smokefree Team are always at hand. If you want to quit, give them a call on 0161 366 2000.
For more information please contact:
Communications Manager for Smokefree North West
Tel: 0161 238 6385
Mobile: 07825 309760
Communications Officer – NHS Tameside and Glossop
0161 304 5800