At the beginning of July, a trading standards office released a statement claiming that an illegal tobacco raid in Plymouth was a “success” despite no illegal tobacco being found.
A trading standards office said of their Friday morning raid, “Although none was found on this occasion, the message is clear that illegal tobacco trade will not be tolerated in Plymouth”.
It transpired that the campaign was actually instigated by an organisation called Smokefree South West, another government-sponsored organisation that attempts to discourage smoking. Bizarrely, organisations like Smokefree South West have been integral in calling for plain packaging for cigarettes – a policy that is believed to increase the amount of illegal tobacco on the black markets.
Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, is quoted in the local newspaper as having said: “Since the recession people have been on the hunt for a bargain, but illegal tobacco is not a gamble worth taking, as children who start to smoke at a young age will often carry on for many years so by accepting illegal tobacco into our shops and onto our streets we are putting lives at risk and communities in danger.”
The organisation has offered no explanation of why it therefore supports the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.
In Australia, where plain packaging was introduced in 2012, cigarette sales have actually risen. If the same were to occur in the United Kingdom, Smokefree South West would, ironically, have cause a rise in smoking in the region, contrary to its raison d’etre.
No officials offered any further information about how the illegal raids were a “success” despite not turning up any counterfeit goods.
Note: This article originally reported that the Trading Standards Institute was responsible for the press release. It has since become clear that the Trading Standards Institute was not responsible, but rather, a local body was the source.