The amount of illicit tobacco seized in Hull has risen sharply over the past two years – and people in the city are helping to keep it off the streets.
In 2017, public protection officers and partners recovered 79,120 cigarettes. In 2019, that figure rose to 1,085,620 – an increase of 1,272 per cent.
In the same period, the amount of tobacco recovered went from 15.5kg to 182.7kg – an increase of 1,078 per cent.
One factor in this rise is a huge increase in the amount of information coming forward on Hull shops selling the contraband.
Illicit cigarettes and tobacco have no legal market in the UK. They are likely to have been intended for sale in other countries and smuggled in, but could also be counterfeits of branded products.
A spokesperson for the public protection team said: “An increased amount of intelligence is part of it. People don’t want this in their communities, enticing children to smoke, preventing adults quitting and funding organised crime. They know they can provide a tip-off in complete anonymity and it will get followed up, and we do receive information very regularly.
|Total seizures by year|
|2017||79,120 cigarettes||15.5kg tobacco|
|2018||339,000 cigarettes||62.5kg tobacco|
|2019||1,085,620 cigarettes||182.7kg tobacco|
“We’ve also become increasingly familiar with the ways people conceal their illegal tobacco. We’ve seen everything from false shelves and cupboards to hollow walls, trick light fittings and a crude hole between the floorboards of the ground and first floors. Sometimes we will also use detection dogs. If there’s something there, we’ll find it”.
April Cundy, health improvement officer, said: “Illicit tobacco is an important part of stopping people smoking – the very low cost is a barrier to quitting and makes it accessible to children and young people. It can be perceived as a victimless crime, with the only losers the governments not collecting the duty, but that’s really not the case.
Our public protection team use dogs to find illegal tobacco. Illegal tobacco prevents people quitting & makes smoking accessible to children. 40 people still die every month in Hull as a result of smoking-related conditions, so these dogs do important work #TakeYourDogToWorkDay pic.twitter.com/joHHeYGawQ
— HullPublicHealth (@HealthHull) June 21, 2019
“This week sees the relaunch of the Keep it Out campaign, which is simply about encouraging people to safely and anonymously report the places in their communities which are selling this illicit tobacco.”
If you know of a shop or individual selling illegal tobacco, report it anonymously here or call the hotline on 0300 999 0000. You will not be asked to provide any personal information.