A CAMPAIGN to tackle the illegal tobacco trade has been stepped up in Wiltshire.

According to the latest figures, one in five smokers in the county now smoke illegal tobacco, with the trade in the south west equivalent to £211million in the retail sector.

In an attempt to clamp down on the trade, Wiltshire Council is taking part in a partnership initiative alongside HMRC, the police, Crimestoppers and other enforcement agencies.

Keith Humphries, cabinet member for public health and public protection, said: “We are committed to disrupting the supply of illegal tobacco across the south west and through this initiative we are able to gather intelligence to help us complete this task.

“Businesses should be aware that if illegal tobacco is being sold on their premises they are liable to a range of fines that could strip them of their livelihood.”

Key ways of identifying illegal tobacco include the price – if it is less than £3.50 for 20 cigarettes or under £7 for 50g of hand rolling tobacco - packets missing the fiscal mark, no health warning, foreign language on packs (specifically the health warning), printing errors and unusual taste and smell.

Maggie Rae, corporate director of public health and public protection, said: “Significant progress has been made since February 2011, when this campaign was launched to tackle the problem of illegal tobacco across Wiltshire. “The illegal tobacco market in the UK has halved in the last decade but still poses a real and present threat to children and local communities. Cigarettes and pouches of hand rolling tobacco are offered to our children at pocket money prices making it cheap and all too easy for them to smoke and become addicted.”

The sale of illegal tobacco is a criminal offence. Anyone wishing to report the selling of illegal tobacco can report anonymously online to Trading Standards at stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.