Wakefield Council and Trading Standards shortlisted for prestigious MJ Award

27/07/2020, PR-9487

​West Yorkshire Trading Standards' Cheap and Illicit Tobacco work, in partnership with the five West Yorkshire councils including Wakefield Council, has been shortlisted in the Public Health Improvement category of The Municipal Journal (MJ) Awards 2020.

The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, funded by the Public Health departments of the five West Yorkshire councils, is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The initiative uses multi-agency enforcement and community marketing campaigns to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.

To date the programme has taken over one million cigarettes and 128 kilograms of illegal hand rolling tobacco off the streets of Wakefield. With more inspections planned in the coming weeks, these figures are set to increase. Across the West Yorkshire region, training sessions with thousands of members of the public and hundreds of front line professionals have been delivered to raise awareness about the dangers and wider criminality associated with the supply of illicit tobacco.

Cllr Faith Heptinstall
Cllr Faith Heptinstall

​Cllr Faith Heptinstall, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, said: "By encouraging communities to take action against illicit cigarettes being sold, we are ensuring a healthier and safer future for our children as well as society as a whole.

"I am delighted that the hard work that has gone into supporting this important programme has been recognised."

Illegal cigarettes and tobacco are usually sold at a fraction of the price in a range of locations such as pubs, clubs, shops, private houses and even by street hawkers. Illegal tobacco undermines the age and price restrictions placed on tobacco and also encourages people to continue smoking. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth billions of pounds. Victims of human trafficking are often being forced to sell these illegal products in order to pay off debts or fearing harm to themselves or their families.

Being shortlisted for the awards is a recognition of the innovative partnership project having a benefit in improving public health outcomes and winning an MJ Award not only allows local authorities to be recognised for the delivery of their services over the last 12 months, but it also allows them to share their expertise with their peers. Each category is judged by influential commentators from the private and public sectors giving their organisation the chance to illustrate its ability, ingenuity and performance. Winning an MJ Award not only promotes a local authority's achievements, but it also provides staff the recognition they deserve.

Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager, said: "All tobacco – both legal and illegal – kills half of all long term smokers. Children and young smokers are often targeted by people who sell illegal cigarettes, making it even easier for them to get hooked on smoking. The people making money out of this do not care who they sell to. We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award as it is recognition for all the hard work of all the partners involved."

Cllr Les Shaw, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said: "It is great to see that the partnership has been recognised and shortlisted for the MJ awards and all our fingers are crossed for the 2 October announcement. The illegal sale of tobacco in communities enables and encourages young children to buy it cheaply. It is really great that so many partners are working to tackle traders that break the law. I would like to thank members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities."

If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/ anonymously.

Anyone wanting help to quit smoking can contact the Stop Smoking Service in Wakefield by calling 0800 612 0011 free from landlines or 0330 660 1166 free from most mobiles or visit https://wakefield.yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk/