NEARLY a quarter of smokers in Wiltshire smoke illegal tobacco according to research from Smoke Free Southwest.

In an article about the issue Maggie Rae, Director of Public Health at Wiltshire Council, explained that 24.2 per cent of tobacco smoked in Wiltshire is supplied illegally.

This is one of the highest rates in the south west and underpins an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to smoke because it is often half the price of legal, duty-paid tobacco.

Wiltshire Council’s Public Health and Trading Standards Teams are working closely with local police, HMRC and Smokefree South West to clamp down on this serious crime.

The council is encouraging the public to pass on information about illegal tobacco trading in their area.

This information has been invaluable to Trading Standards, who are now carrying out a joint investigation with HMRC to do with £50,000 worth of illegal cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco seized in Melksham earlier this year.

To spot illegal tobacco look out for prices below £5 for 20 cigarettes, unfamiliar brands, printing errors on packs and unusual tastes or smells.

To report the selling of illegal tobacco anonymously online email Trading Standards at or call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.