Illegal tobacco products are cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco or niche products (such as blunts and Shisha) that have been smuggled, bootlegged or counterfeit. The effects that illegal tobacco has on the community are serious.
We know it is being sold in Knowsley and we need you to support the campaign and provide any information anonymously..
There are three sources of illegal tobacco:
- Smuggled: These are generally legitimately-manufactured tobacco products which have evaded payment of tax by being illegally transported, distributed and sold.
- Bootlegged, also known as ‘illicit whites’: Tobacco products which are purchased in a country with a low level of taxation and illegally brought into the UK, evading payment of tax.
- Counterfeit: These are illegally-manufactured tobacco products which are often made abroad, but sometimes in the UK. They are sold cheaply and tax free and vast profits are made throughout the supply chain.
Illicit Tobacco is known to harm our local communities in many different ways:
- It damages local businesses as they are being undercut by criminals selling illegal tobacco cheaply
- Illicit tobacco is normally found to be sold alongside drugs and other counterfeit goods
- It brings criminal activity to the area, helping to fund crime and organised gangs
- Illicit tobacco helps young people start smoking from an early age
- It discourages people from quitting smoking
There is strong evidence to show that illicit tobacco causes house fires. Illegal cigarettes do not meet the 'Reduced Ignition Propensity' safety standard. Since 2011, all cigarettes sold in the UK have to be manufactured to meet this standard which makes sure that cigarettes left unattended go out quickly using fire retardant paper.
Since illegal cigarettes are not manufactured legitimately, you can’t be sure if this safety method is being used, leading to cigarettes staying lit and fires occurring.
Effects on health services
As smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco are far cheaper (up to half or a third of the price of legitimate products) they greatly reduce the incentive for people to quit. This means that when people end up with a smoking-related health condition, it costs the NHS billions of pounds every year.
To spot illicit tobacco, look out for the following:
- Complaints about smell/taste
- No ‘UK Duty Paid’ fiscal mark
- Spelling mistakes and/or altered logos
- Unfamiliar brands, labelling or text
- Price - if 20 cigarettes cost less than £3.50
- Foreign or no health warnings/pictures
Illicit Tobacco is normally sold cheaply from places such as:
- Carboot sales
- Ice cream vans
- Residential homes
To ensure you are purchasing legitimate tobacco products, always buy from a reputable retailer who is less likely to sell illicit tobacco.
Working with our partners, we aim to:
- Disrupt and eliminate criminal organisations which deal in illegal and non-duty paid tobacco products.
- Assist local agencies and other key partners to thoroughly investigate the importation and distribution of illegal and non-duty paid tobacco products.
- Raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco products on young people, peers and the Knowsley community.
- Investigate and prosecute any person concerned in the sale or supply of tobacco products to any child.
Information for local businesses
Selling illicit tobacco
Did you know that if your employees are involved with illegal tobacco sales at work it is you who could face prosecution?
Turning a blind eye is not an option. It is your responsibility to ensure it is not taking place. The sale of illegal tobacco products within your workplace is not a victimless crime, so please don’t become the victim by allowing it to continue as you could face a fine of up to £5,000.
Age Check is a website for retailers to help you make the right decisions when it comes to selling age restricted products, such as tobacco.
It is free to sign up and gain access to relevant information and examples you and your staff may face when trying to prevent underage sales.
To sign up for free, just follow these simple steps:
- Click the ‘register’ button at the top right of the Age Check website.
- Enter your details on the registration page and select your authority from the drop down menu
- Once registered, click ‘Retailer free downloads’ and select ‘Online bundles’. Add the online bundles to your cart.
- Under the heading ‘Have an authority promocode?’ enter the promotion code Lancashire2012 and click ‘apply promocode’. This will then turn your order into a free purchase.
- At the bottom of the screen, click ‘Create free order’. This will generate the order and put the downloads into your account ready for you and your staff to use.
To view your order and downloaded items, click on ‘Your account’ at the top and then ‘View Order History’ on the left-hand side. This will show the order that you have just created. Clicking on the pencil icon will let you see all the files you can download within the order.
To receive free, impartial legal advice for your business, visti www.businesscompanion.info
Information we receive from the community is important because it helps to target enforcement activities effectively.
Any information received about manufacturers, importers, distributors, businesses or individuals dealing in illegal tobacco products will be investigated by Trading Standards. Action will be taken against those found to be breaking the law and this can include prosecutions.
If you do have any information about anyone you suspect is selling illicit tobacco, you can report it anonymously to the Illegal Tobacco Helpline on 0300 999 0000 or online via www.keep-it-out.co.uk. You can also contact Knowsley Council Trading Standards on 0151 443 4738 or firstname.lastname@example.org.