Work to tackle illicit cigarette sales from by unscrupulous shopkeepers and from ‘fag houses’ is being stepped up in Barnsley as part of the council’s plan to drive down numbers of smokers in the district.
The authority has scored a series of successes with its recent work to create smoke-free zones around some public spaces, including children’s play areas and it has now gone on to try to get the borough’s 80 primary schools to introduce similar zones around their premises.
By 2025 the authority is aiming to have a ‘smoke free generation’, which children have grown up in an environment where smoking isn’t seen, reducing the likelihood of them taking up the habit.
But in addition to that work, the council is also focusing on the sale of illegal cigarettes, sold without the tax which makes legitimate sales so expensive.
It is known that some are sold ‘under the counter’ by shopkeepers while others are distributed from ‘fag houses’, which become known through word of mouth sales.
Public health officer Kaye Mann has updated councillors who sit on the North Area Council, responsible for communities in that part of town.
She said: “Some fag houses and shops are selling illegally and we are doing a lot of work about that.
“The more it costs (to smoke) the less they can afford. Illicit cigarettes, you can get for £3. There is a lot of work going off through the council.”
The council started distributing material, including signs, to primary schools in early summer with the hope that by making it a simple process to make their grounds smoke free, all would move forwards with the idea.
It is already known that many have done so, but work is currently ongoing to establish details of any which have not, so they can be offered further help to introduce the scheme.
A further advantage of reducing smoking is that getting people off the habit can have a dramatic effect on poverty, by freeing up cash which would otherwise go on smoking, councillors were told.