Tobacco sniffer dog Peggy – photo supplied
Help protect children in Norfolk by reporting illegal tobacco sales is the message from Norfolk County Council Trading Standards as officers prepare to head out on a week-long roadshow around the county to help raise awareness of the issue that can see children becoming addicted to harmful tobacco sold by unscrupulous traders.
From Tuesday 7 August Norfolk County Council Trading Standards officers will be visiting Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Thetford and Norwich and are calling on people to come along to find out more about illegal tobacco and its dangers. At the roadshow events people will also be able to meet Yoyo the tobacco sniffer dog who has played a big part in the successful seizures of illegal tobacco made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards officers in the past year and see him working with his handler to practice searching for tobacco. Two trainee sniffer dogs Peggy and Maggie will also be there during the week.
Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of the Communities Committee, said: “Illegal tobacco and cigarettes are being sold at ‘pocket money’ prices in our communities by traders who don’t care that they’re making smoking accessible to our children, and helping them get hooked on it.
“Sales of cheap illegal tobacco can put young people at risk because they are likely to buy from criminals who also sell alcohol and drugs. The sale of illegal tobacco is often linked with other criminal activity, including organised crime gangs who facilitate the misery of human trafficking and slavery.
“We want to raise awareness that illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime, but is a serious threat to our youngest citizens and their future health and wellbeing, and that it harms neighbourhoods, undermines legitimate trade and brings crime into local communities.”
Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards and Public Health teams are continuing the campaign launched two years ago which has so far seen over 1.3 million illegal cigarettes and 123kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco seized and 11 traders successfully prosecuted for their crimes.
Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, said: “In the last year alone we’ve carried out numerous enforcement visits to businesses across Norfolk. The biggest success so far has been disrupting supply in King’s Lynn through the seizure of one million illegal cigarettes; following a joint operation between Norfolk Police and ourselves.
“We have brought, and will continue to bring, offending traders before the courts. Convictions have resulted in prison sentences, fines and forfeiture of stock and have also led to unscrupulous traders having their alcohol licenses revoked.
“We rely on the public being our eyes and ears to help us disrupt this illicit trade, so I would encourage anyone who has information or any suspicion that illegal tobacco is being hawked around their communities to let us know.”
“People can speak to officers at the roadshow or call Citizens Advice Consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or use their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or call 101 (use 999 in an emergency)”
Also present at the roadshow events will be Smokefree Norfolk who will be on hand to provide help to those interested in quitting smoking.
Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health in Norfolk, said “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease. All forms of tobacco are harmful – cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco, and niche tobacco.
“The illegal trade undermines efforts to reduce smoking as it makes tobacco available at cheaper prices and is available from unscrupulous suppliers in local communities. This makes it easier for children to start smoking and get hooked at a young age. With campaigns such as this we hope to raise awareness of the harms of illegal tobacco.
“If you are interested in quitting please contact the stop smoking service at 0800 0854 113, and if you are not ready to quit switch to vaping.”
Roadshow dates and locations:
• Great Yarmouth Market Place – Tuesday 7 August, 9am-5pm
• King’s Lynn Vancouver Quarter shopping centre – Wednesday 8 August, 9am-5pm
• Thetford Kings Square – Thursday 9 August, 9am-5pm
• Norwich the Forum – Friday 10 August, 8.30am-6pm
Residents can provide information in the following ways:
• By calling Citizens Advice consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer
• By calling 101 (use 999 in an emergency)
Follow the campaign or register your support on social media using #illegaltobacco
Norfolk CC will be sharing information from the roadshow events each day on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/norfolktradingstandards and on twitter www.twitter.com/norfolkccts
For more information on illegal tobacco visit: www.illicit-tobacco.co.uk/problem/illicit-tobacco