Sniffer dogs in King’s Lynn today to launch crackdown on illegal tobacco sales
- Credit: Archant
Trading standards officers and staff from public health are in King's Lynn's Tuesday Market Place today, at the launch of a campaign to crackdown on traders who sell illicit cigarettes and tobacco.
People are being urged to help protect children by reporting illegal tobacco sales.
The event, from noon to 3pm, will include a demonstration by BWY Canine Ltd and its specialist dogs who are trained to support trading standards and HMRC officers to sniff out tobacco products in enforcement activity.
Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council's communities committee, said: 'Illegal tobacco and cigarettes are being sold at 'pocket money' prices in our communities by dealers who don't care that they're making smoking accessible to our children, and helping them get hooked on it.
'The places where illegal tobacco is sold also put our youngest residents at risk because they can be visiting people who might also be selling alcohol, drugs or have links with other criminal activity, including organised crime.
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'Our campaign aims to raise awareness that illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime, but is a serious threat to our youngest citizens and their future health and wellbeing, that it harms neighbourhoods and brings crime into local communities.
'It also lets people know that If they don't want their local children to get into smoking and know where illegal tobacco is being sold, they can do something about it and that we are ready to respond to any intelligence we receive.'
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The campaign is also being backed by Dr Augustine Pereira, the council's consultant in public health medicine.
He added: 'If Norfolk's residents get behind this campaign they can help Norfolk move towards making future generations grow up smoke free. They can also support smokers who want to quit by helping to remove a source of cheap tobacco which could undermine their resolve.'
Trading standards manager Sophie Leney said: 'In the last two years our officers have seized hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes, carried out scores of premises inspections, and successfully brought many perpetrators before the courts where they have been rightly convicted for their crimes.
'We rely on the public being our eyes and ears to help us prevent activity like this from continuing and to prosecute those responsible, so I would encourage anyone who has information or any suspicion that illegal tobacco is being hawked around their communities to let us know.'
Five high streets across the county will be visited from now until Saturday, October 1.
As each high street visit will be linked to enforcement activity by trading standards officers the precise locations of these events will not be divulged in advance.
Residents can provide information by calling Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or by calling 101 (use 999 in an emergency).