A CRACKDOWN on selling illegal tobacco is taking place across Bradford, with raids in the district netting a haul of counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes last week.

Bradford Council is backing the regional campaign, Keep it Out, which aims to tackle illegal tobacco products which have been smuggled into the country without tax being paid or are counterfeit.

A joint operation with the Council’s licensing team, West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards last week saw a number of shops being visited in Keighley.

Three shops were visited in the search for counterfeit tobacco products and a large amount of tobacco and cigarettes were seized.

The new Keep it Out campaign highlights the issues around illegal tobacco and encourages both smokers and non-smokers to report any sales they are aware of through a confidential telephone line.

As the trade in illegal tobacco bypasses price and age restrictions, it can make it easier for children to start smoking, harder for adults to stop, and brings crime into local communities.

The Council is backing the campaign ahead of No Smoking Day on Wednesday, March 14.

Sarah Muckle, deputy director of Public Health, said: “This campaign highlights problems linked to illegal tobacco. It undermines effectiveness of tobacco control programmes, by undercutting legitimate outlets it means it is harder for smokers to quit and it enables children and young people to have easier access to tobacco, increasing the likelihood of them smoking.”

Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “I’m pleased trading standards are targeting illicit tobacco sales. Not only do we know tobacco kills, illegal tobacco also brings crime into local communities and is used to get children hooked on smoking.”

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Anyone selling illegal tobacco in our communities needs to know we are targeting them.

“As they target children and young smokers, content to make money out of anyone, we will continue to track them down and prosecute them.”

Mr Lodge urged anyone who knows where illegal tobacco is being sold to get in touch using the confidential reporting hotline on 0300 999 0000 or visit the Keep It Out website at keep-it-out.co.uk.