Black market tobacco calls soar after South Yorkshire blitz

Illegal tobacco seized by Trading Standards
Illegal tobacco seized by Trading Standards

A Star campaign highlighting the dangers of illegal cigarettes being sold on the streets of South Yorkshire resulted in a 71 per cent rise in calls to Crimestoppers about the sale of black market tobacco products.

The Star ran a series of articles warning residents of the dangers of buying unregulated tobacco products such as cigarettes and rolling tobacco – many of which are hazardous to health and smuggled into the country by organised criminal gangs.

Tobacco firm JTI joined forces with Crimestoppers to stamp out the illegal tobacco trade across the UK.

It was revealed black market cigarettes were being sold in the Abbeydale and Darnall areas of Sheffield.

Mark Yexley, of JTI, said: “The number of tobacco related reports to Crimestoppers during the campaign period increased by a massive 71 per cent, which clearly demonstrates illegal tobacco continues to be a very real concern for the local community in Yorkshire.

“The calls to Crimestoppers included information on contraband and fake cigarettes and tobacco being smuggled into the UK to be sold in shops, out of people’s homes – tab houses – and via social media.

“Details of all of these crimes have been passed by Crimestoppers to HMRC and Trading Standards in both South and West Yorkshire for further action and we hope to see prosecutions materialise in the near future.”

Crimestoppers director of operations Roger Critchell said: “As a crimefighting charity, Crimestoppers has a responsibility to tackle all types of crime and, working alongside JTI UK, we hope to be able to clean the streets of illicit tobacco.

“The link this trade has to serious and organised crime is very real, and with the help of information from the public on those supplying and selling these fake products, our aim is to ensure your community is a safe place to live.”