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    Wales gets aggressive on illegal tobacco as criminals target children

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    A national campaign has been launched in Wales to crackdown selling of tobacco to children, stated recent reports, amid recent survey that claims over a third of children who smoke in Wales were approached by sellers beforehand and were offered cheap illegal tobacco.

    The Wales-wide survey involved over 1,000 11-16 year olds showed that 32 percent of current smokers were offered cheap illegal tobacco, and 25 percent of those who had been offered went to buy it. The study also indicated that children who had bought illegal tobacco were highly likely to buy it every time they were offered it (89 per cent).

    The survey also revealed that of the children who bought illegal tobacco, over 50 per cent said it allowed them to continue smoking because it was cheaper and easier to get hold of.

    According to Action on Smoking and Health Wales (ASH Wales), illegal tobacco makes up 10 percent of the entire tobacco market, funds criminality in the community and makes it easy for children start smoking.

    In response to the findings, the Welsh Government, Trading Standards and ASH Wales have launched a national drive to encourage members of the community to anonymously report information about illegal tobacco through the NoIfs-NoButts website.

    Lynne Neagle MS, Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, said: “I am aware of the recent research and I am concerned by this. When we protect our children from illegal tobacco, we protect them from life of possible tobacco addiction.”

    Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales, called cheap illegal tobacco a “gateway into smoking”.

    “We need communities across Wales to pull together and report these illegal sales and protect our children,” Cass said.

    Reports gathered from the Government’s Noifs- NoButts website have already led to raids across Wales. Last month alone, a quarter of a million cigarettes and 20Kg of rolling tobacco were seized in raids across North Wales.

    Trading Standards Tobacco Lead in Wales, Roger Mapleson, said: “The extent of the impact of this criminality on our communities should not be underestimated. With nearly one million illegal cigarettes being smoked in Wales every single day, illegal tobacco is being sold in every corner of Wales.

    “We are dedicated to finding those that break the law, seizing illegal product, causing maximum disruption, closing down their operations and prosecuting criminal behaviour.“

    In 2021, Welsh Trading Standards teams confiscated over 3 million illegal cigarettes off the informal black market.

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