|The Fag Trade
Terry Gregson, principal trading standards officer with Cllr Paul Prescott, cabinet member for lifestyle launching the clampdown at Norley Hall shops.
It’s linked to serious organised crime, it’s costing the country millions each year and sees deadly cigarettes of dubious quality sold to people of all ages – including children.
The trade in illegal cigarettes is on the increase and whilst the bloke down the road selling cheap fags may appear to offer a bargain or be just a light-hearted cheat against the system, council trading standards officers are determined to stop it.
Wigan Council’s Cabinet Champion for Lifestyles, Cllr Paul Prescott explains: “People may think that this is a neat way of getting cigarettes on the cheap and the only victim is the taxman but I would urge them to think again. It can cause real damage to communities and most worrying we have had reports of these cigarettes being sold to children.”
Locally, posters displayed in Norley Hall in Wigan, Higher Folds in Leigh and Hindley’s Borsdane Estate, will raise awareness, and encourage residents to contact Trading Standards. ‘Work from home’ style posters will catch people’s attention and there will be information in locations as diverse as doctors’ surgeries and beer mats in pubs.
Trading standards and HM Customs are working together to stop illegal sales. In the last twelve months, officials in Wigan have successfully netted over 54 kilos of tobacco and 75,000 cigarettes, 9,000 of which were ‘fake’.
Cllr Prescott adds: “People could be buying counterfeit cigarettes and there’s no way to know what harmful chemicals have been put into them. This makes the issue a real cause for concern and a problem that we can only tackle by working together. We know that people do care about the community and want to protect their children, so we would urge anyone with information to let us know where it is happening. You don’t have to give your name or identify yourself in anyway, just let us know the address and we will take action. Together we can smoke 'em out.”
Anyone with information about cigarettes being sold from homes can contact Wigan Council’s Trading Standards Confidential Hotline in complete confidence on 01942 827476.