The Star is today launching a campaign to crack down on the sale of cheap illegal tobacco in Sheffield.
It comes as the sale is said to fund the activities of organised crime groups – and it leaves law-abiding retailers out of pocket.
The launch comes after an undercover sting in Sheffield and Rotherham, during which shopkeepers were caught selling illicit tobacco products.
Illegal tobacco and cigarettes were being sold in shops in Abbeydale, Pitsmoor and Darnall in Sheffield, as well as Aston in Rotherham.
A genuine packet of rolling tobacco costs £16.98 – but in Sheffield a fake pouch of hand-rolling amber leaf was on sale for £3.50.
The test purchasing operations were organised by tobacco firm Japanese Tobacco International.
Mark Yexley, of JTI, said: “The impact of the illicit trade in tobacco on society is far reaching and members of the public, retailers, suppliers and the Government all have a role to play to combat the issue. Criminals who deal in illegal tobacco will sell to all-comers, including children.
“We fully support efforts to rid our streets of illegal tobacco and stop criminals infiltrating our communities.”
Raids by trading standards officers nationwide have netted millions of illegal cigarettes.
As well as fears about crime and tax evasion, there are health concerns for those smoking such products.
Criminals who deal in illegal tobacco will sell to all-comers, including childrenMark Yexley, Japanese Tobacco International
When analysed, some illegal cigarettes contained dead flies, human excrement and abnormally high levels of cancer-causing chemicals.
Non UK duty-paid tobacco products – cigarettes and rolling tobacco on which taxes have not been paid – include counterfeit, ‘illicit white’ or duty-free products.
‘Illicit white’ products are made specifically for the purpose of smuggling.