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Campaign Urges People To Recognise Dangers Of Illegal Tobacoo

Published on: 11 Sep, 2013
Updated on: 11 Sep, 2013

Surrey Crimestoppers is launching a campaign this month urging people to recognise the damage sales of illegal tobacco can do in local communities and report the criminals involved in illegal sales.

The campaign  is titled ‘Illegal tobacco is a drag on our community’.

Illegal tobacco 2Illegal tobacco in the UK is becoming a real problem with organised criminal gangs targeting vulnerable people by selling cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco at reduced prices.

Surrey is no exception, with illicit tobacco being found by Surrey County Council Trading Standards in many boroughs.

The presence of illegal tobacco causes four times as many deaths as illegal drugs, because it both discourages smokers from quitting and encourages more smoking, especially with children taking up the habit. Children are often targeted by these gangs selling cigarettes at pocket money prices.

Steve Ruddy, head of Surrey County Council Trading Standards, said: “These illegal products are uncontrolled and can contain very high levels of tar, nicotine, and many other dangerous chemicals and contaminants. In some cases they have even been found to contain rat droppings or manure.

“In addition, since 2011, all tobacco paper products in the EU must be self extinguishing, in a bid to reduce the risk of house fires. Most illegal tobacco products do not comply and hence can create serious fire risks.

“The cheap price of illegal tobacco also has a detrimental effect on the trade of honest businesses and deprives the Government of tax. I urge anyone who has information about illegal tobacco products to report the matter anonymously to Crimestoppers immediately.”

Crimestoppers recognise that often people know what is happening, but are too scared to speak out to the authorities.  Crimestoppers offers people an anonymous safe and secure route to inform on the criminals involved in illegal tobacco sales.

Angela Hollinshead, Crimestoppers’ area manager for Surrey, said the public needs to take the issue seriously and report anyone including shopkeepers in Surrey who are selling suspiciously low-priced tobacco.

“Illegal tobacco sales can be easily overlooked as everyone loves a bargain, but the sale of illegal tobacco can have a knock-on cost to our local communities.

“Sales are generally associated with crimes of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco and often linked with organised crime gangs.  It can also bring our young people into early contact with criminals.”

The trade in illegal tobacco has serious consequences for Surrey as criminal gangs infiltrate our communities. These gangs can then use the same routes for the importation and distribution of other drugs such as cannabis and heroin.

Common brands of illegal tobaccos to look out for include Jin Ling, Raquel, Richman and Camelford, which cannot legitimately be bought in the UK. However, if tobacco products do not contain health warnings written in English or display the ‘UK DUTY PAID’ fiscal mark, they are also illegal.

If you think you know where the tobacco is being sold, stored or made, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or go online at

Contacting the charity is completely anonymous, calls are not recorded, IP addresses are untraceable and no one will ever know it was you who called, not even Crimestoppers.

The campaign is supported by Surrey Smokefree Alliance, Surrey Police, Surrey Fire & Rescue, Surrey County Council, HM Revenue & Customs and local Borough/District Councils.  To find out more about the campaign, log on to:

Illegal tobacco

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