The danger of illegal tobacco is being highlighted in a series of special public events taking place across the borough next week (14-17 March).
The council’s trading standards team will be holding an illegal tobacco roadshow to help smokers and non-smokers spot the tell-tale signs of non-regulated cigarettes, as well as highlight how harmful counterfeit tobacco products can be.
The team will also lift the lid on how they use trained dogs to sniff out stashes and catch businesses who sell illegal (also known as illicit) tobacco. These include tobacco products that cannot be legally sold in the UK, cigarettes where no tax/duty has been paid as well as foreign and counterfeit cigarettes.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to come along to the following free roadshows to find out more:
Monday 14 March, 10am-4pm, The Centre, 154 High St, Feltham, TW13
Tuesday 15 March, 11am-3pm, West Thames College, London Road, Isleworth, TW7 (for college students, only)
Thursday 17 March, 10am-4pm, Hounslow car park (opposite Asda), Holloway Street, behind the High Street, TW3
Friday 18 March, 10am-4pm, Tesco Extra, Syon Park Gardens, Isleworth, TW7.
As part of these events, there is also a chance for visitors to win £50 in Argos gift vouchers at every roadshow when answering a few quick questions about their understanding of what illegal tobacco is and the effects it can have.
All completed surveys will be entered into a prize draw which will take place daily once the roadshow has ended. Respondents who give their details could win the prize however the survey can also be completed anonymously.
Councillor Richard Foote, Cabinet Member for Community Protection, Hounslow Council, said: “A lot of work is done by trading standards to make the borough safer – illegal tobacco is just one element of their work but arguably one of the most important.
“Smokers know the harmful effects that tobacco can have on them but many may be unwittingly buying dodgy cigarettes which can prove even more detrimental to their health. And there are also those who knowingly buy counterfeit tobacco to save a few quid without fully understanding the implications of their actions.
“We can only win the battle against unscrupulous smugglers and irresponsible businesses with help from our residents. Come along and help us end this potentially fatal trend and raise awareness of the dangers counterfeit tobacco poses to our community.”
To report illegal or illicit tobacco in Hounslow email: Tradingstandards@hounslow.gov.uk.