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Trading Standards and Tobacco

July 26, 2018 . by Matthew Hern

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service has a duty to enforce legislation in relation to tobacco control as follows:

Under Age sales legislation including persistent selling: This legislation restricts the access of tobacco to children under the age of 18 in respect of retail premises.

Copyright/Trade Marks: Brand holders spend a lot of money creating and promoting their brand which the counterfeiters by-pass. Illicit tobacco is cheaper than legitimate tobacco so is attractive to buy, however the products are not regulated as to contents so they do not contain the protections laid down in legislation, eg. nicotine levels, hygiene, contaminants, fire safety device, etc.

Advertising and Display: The display regulations are currently in force in supermarkets and larger shops and will be coming into force for smaller shops in 6th April 2015.

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and Enterprise Act: These pieces of legislation protect customers from the misselling of products and persistent offenders.

Illicit Tobacco Products

Trading Standards are keen to support legitimate traders and help them trade in a fair and level playing field, however those shops, private houses and individuals who are selling counterfeit and duty evaded cigarettes and handrolling tobacco are undermining your local shops. This is a time to support them and you can do this by letting us know of anybody who may be selling illicit tobacco products to us by phoning the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Underage Sales

It has been shown that children who do not smoke before they are 18 are very unlikely to start smoking. We need to protect our children from tobacco by restricting access to cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco. Please let us know if you are aware of anybody supplying children with cigarettes by phoning the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

It should also be noted that it is illegal to split packs of cigarettes and sell them individually.

E- cigarettes

These have been advertised as an alternative to normal cigarettes. All electronic cigarettes and other nicotine containing products (NCPs) will have to be licenced as medicines by 2016, but in the meantime there is no control over the amount of nicotine or additives in these products. It may be surprising to realise, but e-cigarettes are also being counterfeited and if you are concerned that a product you have purchased is counterfeit please phone the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Trader Advice and Assistance

Trading standards works hard to help legitimate business and we provide a wealth of information and assistance on our website: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards

Trading Standards Work

Trading standards have recently carried out operations in Nottinghamshire where an estimated £20,000 worth of counterfeit and untaxed tobacco products were seized:

Notts County Council press release

Worksop Guardian press release

There has also been a recent successful prosecution of a counerfeir tobacco seller:

James Thomas Prosecution

Working with the sniffer dogs is something new to Nottinghamshire Trading Standards and has reaped benefits. Below are some pictures which show how far some traders will go to hide the illicit tobacco. These were all found using the sniffer dogs.

 

 

Smuggled and Fake (illegal) Tobacco

With the price of tobacco increasing year on year and the cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes now more than £7 for some premium brands, it’s tempting to buy cheap cigarettes from a house down the road or a friend of a friend.

But do you really know what you’re buying and do you really know who it impacts on? Here are the key facts you need to know:

I’m just buying off someone who has brought the tobacco in from abroad, avoiding paying duty. This doesn’t hurt anyone!

How do you know this is true? How do you know that the cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco you are smoking is a genuine product? Just because it has foreign labelling does not mean it can’t be counterfeited!

Tobacco Companies and the government make enough money – why shouldn’t I buy counterfeit products?

You may think you are not hurting anyone by smoking these products, but below are reasons why you are:

Illegal tobacco is linked to international organised crime. The people behind this counterfeit and illicit trade are often the same people who are behind drugs, gun running, people trafficking, sex trade, etc.

Illegal products are often used as the first stage of money laundering as it is seen as a “softer” crime than drugs or guns.

Our local shops are important, support them by buying legitimate cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from them. The illegal tobacco trade is big business for dealers who reap the profits of selling cheap smokes without having to follow tax laws. Honest retailers cannot compete with illegal tobacco sellers causing local businesses to close and economies to suffer.

Illegal tobacco is linked to sweat shops and child labour. As it is outside the law, there are no controls over how the workers are treated.

People who sell cheap tobacco target children to make an easy profit. This makes it too easy for our kids to smoke and become addicted. Often these people are part of organised gangs and don’t have a problem selling other things like drugs and alcohol to children.

We are in an economic crises – the loss to the Revenue in the U.K. from tobacco fraud is estimated to range from £1.1bn – £3bn in 2009/10 – this would help with our national debt and help protect local services such as schools and the National Health Service.

There are no controls over the manufacture of counterfeit cigarettes. If you think normal cigarettes can be bad for you – you should see what is in the counterfeit ones! The conditions the cigarettes are made in can be disgusting with no controls over the hygiene, eg. rodent control (rat droppings!) They are outside the law and they don’t care about you!

Genuine cigarettes have a safety feature which puts them out if they are left burning. An unattended cigarette left burning could cause a fire.

What can you do to help?

If you’re a smoker, refuse to buy cheap tobacco. Phone the number below if you become aware of someone, either from a private house or a shop selling cheap cigarettes “under the counter”.

If you’re an employer and people are found selling illegal tobacco at work phone the number below. If you do nothing, you could be seen to be responsible. Pubs and off licences could lose their alcohol licences as well as being prosecuted for allowing this illegal trade to happen on their premises. Make sure you are not assisting this crime by allowing it to happen on your premises.

Tell your friends and families why it’s important not to buy illegal tobacco.

Do not ignore it; you can help keep illegal tobacco out of our communities by reporting any suspicions you have anonymously to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline or Crimestoppers. The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues, such as fake and smuggled tobacco.

Call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06

Please note that all calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and calls to Citizens Advice Consumer helpline can be made in confidence, however it can be helpful to us if you do provide your personal details so we can clarify information if we need to.

If you are a trader and you are concerned that you may have handled counterfeit cigarettes or have been offered cheap cigarettes, please contact us via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 with the details.

 

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