Reducing the availability of illegal tobacco and supply of legal tobacco to children is an important part of efforts to reduce smoking.
The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Partnership is a collaboration of the UK's three collaborative, locally-commissioned tobacco control programmes – Fresh, Smokefree South West and Tobacco Free Futures – who work with councils, police and HMRC to reduce demand and supply of illegal tobacco.
We have also engage the public and key stakeholders in mass media campaigns to reduce the acceptability of illegal tobacco sales in communities where it is sold and increase information to trading standards. Visit the Keep it Out campaign website.
While all tobacco is harmful and costs lives, illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking and brings crime into our neighbourhoods.
The illegal tobacco market has halved since around 2000 thanks to tougher action internationally, nationally and locally.
In the North East we have tracked the size of the market since 2009 through independent research. The 2013 independent North East Illicit Tobacco Survey found that in the North East:
- The illegal tobacco market now makes up just 9% of the overall tobacco market in the North East, compared to 13% in 2011 and 15% in 2009
- Only one in six smokers (17%) now buys illegal tobacco - down from one in five (20%) smokers buying it in 2011 and one in four (24%) smokers in 2009.
- The total volume of illegal tobacco bought is down 27% on 2011 which was in turn down 41% on 2009. That means 192 million fewer cigarettes and hand rolled a year worth around £56m in duty.
- Just over four in ten smokers have been offered illicit tobacco, down from more than half in 2011.
Fresh works closely alongside the North East Trading Standards Association and local trading standards leads to help reduce availability of both legal and illegal tobacco to children.