OPERATIONS aimed at preventing and disrupting the sale of counterfeit tobacco are taking place throughout October in Staffordshire.
As well as encouraging people to quit smoking during ‘Stoptober’, Staffordshire County Council will be cracking down on fake fags and reminding retailers of their duties when selling legitimate cigarettes.
Trading Standards officers will be carrying out test purchases in an effort to prevent fake cigarettes being sold, as well as stopping irresponsible retailers selling to people who are under 18.
The operation is part of a government-wide tobacco control plan, which aims to reduce the about of 15 year olds who regularly smoke, reduce smoking in adults to 12 per cent or less, and reduce smoking in pregnancy.
Over a quarter of a million counterfeit and illicit cigarettes and 56kg hand rolling tobacco with street value of around £150,000 were seized in Staffordshire in 2016/17 by the county council’s trading standards team.
Although all tobacco is harmful, there is often no control on the content or quality of illicit tobacco. Fake cigarettes have been found to contain many dangerous chemicals, dust, asbestos and high tar levels. The illegal trade in tobacco also has strong links to organised crime.
County Councillor Gill Heath, cabinet lead for trading standards said: “Stoptober is the perfect time for us to raise awareness not only of the dangers of smoking, but the dangers of illicit tobacco. Counterfeit and illicit tobacco is damaging to people’s health and can undermine smoking cessation efforts as it is usually sold at a cheaper price. In addition, they can be a fire risk as they do not self-extinguish when left to burn as legitimate cigarettes do.
“The county council has worked hard to combat the sale of illicit tobacco in recent years—and we will continue to keep raising awareness of the public health dangers posed by illicit and counterfeit cigarettes.”