A team which includes the NHS and Trading Standards in Colchester is launching a campaign to try to stop access to cut-price tobacco. The organisations say illegal tobacco's endangering children in the East because it's making smoking cheaper, and can bring them into contact with criminals.
A study by NEMS market research found that illegal tobacco is selling for less than half its official price in the East of England. The research also suggests that young people may be up to four times more price sensitive than adults, making them a particular target.
NEMS says that nearly a third of smokers in the East have been offered illicit tobacco. Of those 29% said they have tried it, and 13% said they have bought it.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been running a national strategy to tackle tobacco smuggling since 2000. In that time it has seized more than 20 billion cigarettes, with a value of around £4.5 billion in legitimate lost sales, and seized over 2,700 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco.