A campaign to stub out the sale of illegal tobacco has been launched this week by the crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers.
They are also raising awareness of the links to the organised criminal groups who sell the tobacco and the impact that this crime has on local communities.
The appeal aims to reduce the amount of illegal tobacco being sold by local retailers, at car boot sales and pubs in Glasgow and the surrounding area, which in turn will reduce funding often linked to organised crime groups (OCGs).
It was reported last year that the UK saw an almost 50 per cent rise in the consumption of counterfeit and contraband (C&C) cigarettes in 2014, the second highest increase across the whole of the EU.
It is estimated that there are four billion illicit cigarettes in circulation in the UK, as well as 4,400 tons of illicit rolling tobacco.
The campaign will use radio advertisements and online tools such as Facebook and Twitter get the message across.
Criminals selling illegal tobacco often have links to serious crimes such as human trafficking and the purchase of weapons.
The aim of the campiagn is for local people to contact Crimestoppers anonymously to pass on any information they might have on those selling the products.
Roger Critchell, Director of Operations for Crimestoppers, said: “While some will see illegal tobacco as a victimless crime, I can strongly reject this, with this campaign highlighting the negative impact it has on our communities.
“The links this trade has to serious organised crime and gangs are very real, and they are operating in your area, which has a detrimental effect on your community and the lives of their victims.
“This is why we are reaching out to communities to tell us who is committing this crime, safe in the knowledge you will remain completely anonymous.
“I would urge people to look beyond just the issue of illegal tobacco, and to the major impact it has on funding other crimes.
“Tell us anonymously who’s selling it, and help stop the crimes you don’t see.”
If you have any information on those selling illegal tobacco then please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the Anonymous Online Form at crimestoppers-uk.org.
To find out more about the campaign please visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org/tobacco.