LAST week’s drug raids across Swindon and Wiltshire show how far the illegal tobacco trade is part of organised crime, according to Smokefree South West.

A total of £15,000 worth of illegal tobacco was seized as part of Operation Harness carried out on Wednesday by the Police, Trading Standards and HMRC. Meanwhile 30,000 illegal cigarettes and 30 kilos of illegal hand rolled tobacco were found in one shop alone.

Smokefree South West, a public health body which works to cut smoking-related early death across the region, has been instrumental in bringing the various agencies together to combat the illegal tobacco trade. Through the Tobacco Action Plan, Smokefree South West has demonstrated the clear links between illegal tobacco and organised crime, working to break up criminal networks across the region.

Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West, said: “Illegal tobacco is a major issue and about much more than missed taxes.

“It’s often sold at pocket money prices – making it cheap and all too easy for our children to smoke and become addicted to tobacco.”