Illegal tobacco - appeal to the public to help stop local kids smoking

Date published: 07 November 2022

Local residents are being encouraged to help stop kids from smoking by reporting the sale of illegal tobacco.

As part of Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership’s ambition to make smoking history, it has re-launched its Keep it Out campaign across the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester to help reduce the supply and demand for illegal tobacco.

More than one in two young smokers have smoked illegal tobacco.

Children and young smokers are often targeted by people who sell illegal cigarettes and tobacco, making it even easier for them to get hooked on smoking.

Sellers do not adhere to age restrictions and do not care about selling to children and young people.

As well as helping children to start smoking, criminal gangs supplying illegal tobacco are often involved in people trafficking, drugs or loan sharking.

Buying it means supporting crime and can bring children into contact and into debt with criminals.

Enforcement teams across Greater Manchester are appealing for new information and asking people to anonymously report illegal tobacco sellers in their local communities.

Following almost 330 reports from concerned residents and businesses in the last year, trading standards teams have been active across the city-region seizing more than 1,801,000 illegal cigarettes and more than 250kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco through Operation CeCe, a partnership between National Trading Standards and HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.

Even though the number of people smoking has halved, and the volume of both legal and illegal tobacco has reduced over the last two decades, Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership is urging the government to do more to make smoking history including more action to tackle the illegal tobacco trade and a new properly funded national tobacco control plan which includes a levy on tobacco manufacturer profits to fund prevention work, support to quit and enforcement activity.

Andrea Crossfield, Making Smoking History Lead at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, said: “Tackling illegal tobacco is vital to make smoking history for future generations, and to help reduce the harms of smoking related illnesses such as lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness in local communities.

“Legal or illegal, all tobacco contains a toxic cocktail of chemicals which will kill two in three people who continue to smoke regularly.

"But illegal cigarettes are often responsible for getting children started on this lethal addiction – one that most people wish they hadn’t started.

"This is because of their availability at pocket money prices, and because dealers simply don’t care that they’re selling to children.

“No one wants their child to get hooked on smoking, but we know that most children who start smoking do continue on.

"By reporting illegal tobacco sales, you’re helping us keep our communities safe and smokefree.

“Anyone who is looking for help to quit smoking in Greater Manchester can visit our website at: to find free local support.”

Kate Pike, Trading Standards North West Lead on Tobacco, said: “The lengths that people go to, to sell illegal tobacco to children, even in school uniform, are quite astonishing.

"But we are working with partners across Greater Manchester to crack down on illegal tobacco sellers by acting on intelligence.

“The illegal tobacco trade is run by criminals who exploit other vulnerable people, such as care leavers and immigrants.

"Many of these individuals are taken advantage of and coerced into living in horrible conditions, smuggling products and acting as a front for gangs involved in organised crime.

“We are encouraging residents and responsible businesses across Greater Manchester to report illegal tobacco sales, so enforcement teams can take more products off the street.

"It is simply not acceptable to buy or sell illegal tobacco products.”

The sale of illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555 111, or at:

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