A campaign aimed at stubbing out the supply of illegal tobacco across Grampian was officially launched last Tuesday, March 20.
The joint initiative, between NHS Grampian, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Moray Council, will encourage businesses and communities to help each local authority’s Trading Standards team take action against illegal sellers.
Posters, leaflets and information cards will be distributed during the campaign and a telephone line, where reports can be made confidentially, will be publicised.
The project is supported by retailers and wholesalers across Grampian. Information will also be available at NHS Grampian clinics and doctor surgeries.
Aberdeen City Council Trading Standards Team Leader Graeme Paton said: “We are launching this campaign across the north-east of Scotland in response to information and complaints we have received concerning the illegal trade in tobacco.
“Since October 2011, it has been an offence in Scotland to sell tobacco without being registered with the Scottish Government as a tobacco business.
“The main objectives of our campaign are to determine the level of illegal sales and to prevent unfair competition in the city and throughout the north-east.
“Legitimate retailers comply with the law and are registered to sell tobacco with the Scottish Government. They sell genuine products and do all they can to avoid selling cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.
“Illegal sellers are known to undermine legitimate businesses and can face a fine of up to £20,000 and six months in jail if they are caught.
“We want to encourage people in the community to tell us about any such activity. If you know of someone who sells illegal tobacco from their home, workplace or shop, please let us know using the confidential telephone number.”
Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards Manager Wilma Urquhart said: “We are keen to support this campaign and help eliminate supplies of illegal tobacco in the area.
“Counterfeit products have been found to contain far higher levels of nicotine and other cancer causing chemicals than genuine brands and we would urge anyone tempted to buy these to think again.
“As well as the increased risk to people’s health it is estimated this illegal trade costs the treasury £2.5 billion a year in lost revenue and of course harms the profits of legitimate traders.”
Derek Petrie, Tobacco Control Coordinator for NHS Grampian, said: “This campaign against illegal tobacco sales will help close that gap in our battery of public health measures and improve the health of the most vulnerable.”
Anyone with information about the sale or supply of illegal tobacco is asked to call 01224 522433.