COMMENT: Illicit tobacco can contain dangers that are hidden

The attraction is obvious. If you’re a smoker and reckon you can save money by buying illicit tobacco, chances are you’re going to be thinking of your bank balance rather than your health.

Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 4:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 5:40 pm

But the problem is that a lot of illegally-imported cigarettes could contain more dangerous additives than standard packs.

If you don’t know where they came from, how do you know what’s in them?

Today we reveal some worrying figures about the extent of illicit high-strength cigarettes in Portsmouth.

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A new report shows that 27 per cent of smokers in the city are at risk from tobacco that has been brought here illegally.

To put that into context, that’s nearly double the south east average of 14 per cent.

Of course, everyone who smokes is affecting their health. But lighting up cigarettes with unknown origins that have been smuggled into this country is increasing the risk of damage.

As director of public health in Portsmouth Dr Jason Horsley says: ‘Ingredients of illicit tobacco products are not known or regulated and therefore may pose further harm to health.’

The other big concern is that cheap cigarettes and tobacco in general make it easier for people to  start smoking and get hooked.

Not only that, but they are more likely to smoke a greater amount if it’s not hitting them so hard in the wallet or purse.

This means that areas with higher levels of deprivation are likely to see more use of illicit tobacco.

So we’re pleased that funding is continuing for a post working with Portsmouth’s Trading Standards department to tackle illicit tobacco, including a public awareness campaign.

But in a city that has a higher number of adult smokers than the national average, there’s still plenty of work to be done to get the message out there and turn people away from cut-price illegal imports.