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Illegal cigarettes can be killers warning

A packet of illegal Jin Ling cigarettes.

Trading standards and fire officers are warning people that illegal cigarettes known to be smoked in North East Lincolnshire can be killers.

The warning comes after a shop owner in Boston, Lincolnshire, was recently found guilty of eight offences including selling non-extinguishing cigarettes after trading standards seized more than 3,000 illegal Jin Ling cigarettes from his premises. This was the first time anyone in the UK has been fined for selling non-extinguishing cigarettes.

Russian produced Jin Ling is a cheap, smuggled brand that does not comply with the new fire safety standard for cigarettes.

Since November 2011, all cigarettes produced and sold in EU countries have to comply with a European Standard which requires them to be self-extinguishing when left unattended or not actively puffed on.

A smouldering Jin Ling cigarette is thought to have started a house fire in Spalding last year in which a 71-year-old woman died.

A litter survey carried out at the end of 2011 in North East Lincolnshire showed that this brand is widely smoked in our area and one in 40 discarded packets collected in the survey were Jin Ling.

Councillor Hazel Chase, portfolio holder for Safer and Stronger Communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Illicit tobacco sellers often target poor and disadvantaged communities where they know people have more difficulty affording cigarettes from genuine retailers. They are putting people’s lives at risk as well as damaging honest local retailers whose businesses are affected. I would ask people to help remove these problems from their local community by reporting anyone who they suspect of selling illegal cigarettes to trading standards.”

Neil Clark, Community Protection Manager at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “It is not surprising that in these difficult financial times, some smokers will turn to cheap brands of cigarettes to save money. These brands are completely unregulated with few controls on how they are produced. They may therefore not only present additional risks from the poor quality of materials and poor hygiene but as they do not comply with current fire safety requirements they can, as this case demonstrates, be lethal.”

Phil Leake, Community Safety Manager for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said “Smoking related materials were the biggest cause of domestic fire deaths in the Humberside area throughout 2012. We have welcomed the new requirements for cigarettes to be self-extinguishing which will, it is believed, cut the number of smoking related fires and fire deaths by up to two thirds. Illegal cigarettes may not however comply with these requirements so do pose an additional fire risk.”

Genuine, legal packets of cigarettes or hand rolled tobacco can be easily recognised as they should have the words UK DUTY PAID on the packs, all of the wording should be in English and there are health warning messages on both the front and back of the packet.

Residents in North East Lincolnshire are being asked to report people who they suspect of selling cheap, illegal cigarettes to North East Lincolnshire Council Trading Standards on 01472 324807 or text CIGS to 82055. Alternatively, they can ring Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111 or e-mail www.crimestoppers-uk.org.