Northumberland residents are being asked to help keep illegal tobacco off their street as part of a national campaign
Northumberland County Council’s public protection service is supporting the Crimestoppers ‘Keep it Out’ campaign which aims to reduce the size of the illegal tobacco market across the county. Public protection officers are working with libraries, leisure centres, pharmacies and the NHS to get the message out to residents.
Earlier campaigns have shown how keen the public are to report information about the sales of illegal tobacco, especially to children. The ‘Keep it Out’ campaign encourages more people to contact Crimestoppers if they know where any kind of illegal tobacco is being sold- whether from ‘tab houses’, on the streets, at work or in local pubs and shops.
Since 2009, the North East has had success in reducing the volume of illegal tobacco bought by 39 per cent, and the number of smokers buying illegal tobacco has fallen by ten per cent. This is estimated to have saved around £36million duty and tax. The overall national market has shown a massive decline by half in the last decade thanks to major national and international action.
Overall smoking rates have also reduced faster in the North East in recent years than anywhere else in England.
Professor Sue Milner, director of public health and protection for Northumberland County Council, said: “All tobacco is lethal and we are working with partners to reduce the illegal tobacco market because of the impact that it has on public health. We need information from residents so that we can target our efforts and we can reassure the public that action will be taken against illegal sellers.”
Councillor Anita Romer, Executive Member for Health and Public Protection, and Chairperson of the Smoke Free Northumberland Alliance said “People everywhere can make a difference to help keep illegal tobacco off the streets and we want to keep the pressure up on those who sell illegal tobacco with our ‘Keep it Out’ campaign.”
A survey of over 4000 people in the North East and North West found that from 2009 to 2011:
- The volume of illegal tobacco bought by smokers had gone down by 39 per cent in the North East, estimated at £36 million saved from duty evasion
- The number of smokers buying illegal tobacco fell by 10 per cent
- Nine in ten people agree that children and young people are concerned that they are at risk from unscrupulous ‘dealers’ who will sell to them
- 14-15 year olds are twice as likely to buy illegal tobacco than adults
- Six out of ten people think that these ‘dealers’ also bring crime into local communities
David Hunter, regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: “Over a million people have given information about criminals to Crimestoppers and not once has their identity been breached. We want to know what you know, not who you are.”
Anyone who knows where illegal tobacco is being sold can pass on information in complete anonymity by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Or for more information click on www.keep-it-out.co.uk