Smokers in South Yorkshire are being urged to be aware of the dangers of illicit tobacco on World No Tobacco Day tomorrow.
Tobacco consumption is one of the world’s biggest public health threats, killing nearly six million people annually.
Illicit tobacco includes counterfeit and ‘illicit white’ brands of tobacco that are sold legally in one country, but illegally smuggled and sold in another.
The illicit trade of tobacco accounts for as many as one in every 10 cigarettes used globally. The low price of illicit tobacco makes products more affordable and accessible to people, as well as children - increasing tobacco use.
Counterfeit cigarettes have been shown to contain even higher levels of nicotine and more harmful carbon monoxide. Some have also been shown to contain animal and human excrement, sand, glass, plastic and wood.
Barnsley Council is backing the drive and Coun Jim Andrews, cabinet spokesman for public health, said: “All tobacco products are harmful whether they are bought legitimately from a retailer or illegally. Tobacco kills up to half of its users and products contain over 4,000 chemicals, at least 60 of which are known to cause cancer. Since April 2014 we have seized over 52,230 illegal or counterfeit cigarettes and 349 packets of hand rolling tobacco. On World No Tobacco Day, we’re asking people to think about the harmful effects of tobacco, especially tobacco that may be illegal or counterfeit.”
Those caught selling illegal or counterfeit tobacco or cigarettes can face up to 10 years in prison, an unlimited fine, confiscation of their illegal products and seizure of any assets or monies made from the crime.
Anyone wanting to pass information regarding the sale of illicit or counterfeit tobacco products can contact Barnsley Council Regulatory Services by calling 01226 773743 or emailing CRUTechnicalClerks@Barnsley.gov.uk. All information will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.