A campaign to tackle illicit tobacco sales is being backed by Wakefield Council in the run up to ‘No Smoking Day’ on March 14.
The ‘Keep it Out’ initiative highlights the implications of illicit tobacco entering local communities because of its links to crime and its potential to undermine health schemes to help people stop smoking.
Councils across the North East, West Yorkshire and Hull are linking up to tackle illicit tobacco - cigarettes, hand rolling tobacco or other smokers’ products that have been smuggled into Britain without tax being paid on them, or are counterfeit, and usually available through unlicensed outlets.
Coun Pat Garbutt, Cabinet member for Adults and Health at Wakefield Council, said: “We still have high levels of smoking in our district and it is important that we work together to discourage children and young people from ever taking up this damaging habit.”
In the Wakefield district 19.5% of adults smoke compared to 15.5% in England, and 17.7% in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.
Although smoking levels in the district have fallen from 25.1% in 2012, the habit is still the single biggest cause of preventable ill health and death and the trend is not reducing quickly enough.
Anna Hartley, Interim Director of Public Health at Wakefield Council, said: “The ‘Keep it Out’ campaign, is important as we are all working together to tackle illicit tobacco. It is a significant concern that when illicit tobacco is available in our communities this makes it easier for children and young people to have access to substances, which raises the likelihood of them smoking.”
Recent surveys in Yorkshire show 31% of smokers have tried illicit tobacco. Illicit tobacco makes up 9% of the tobacco market and 16% of smokers feel comfortable with the sale of illicit tobacco.
Local trading standards teams are already working with retailers and partner organisations to raise awareness of illicit tobacco.
People can report illegal activities at www.keep-it-out.co.uk or phone the hotline on 0300 999 0000.
Wakefield Stop Smoking Service has 13 clinics across the district and can support those using e-cigarettes as a quitting aid. Visit their website at http://wakefield.yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk or call them on 0800 612 0011.