A CAMPAIGN has led to a 45 per cent rise in the number of illegal cigarettes being seized in Bolton in the space of a year.

And in the last four weeks after a marketing push on the Greater Manchester-wide Keep it Out campaign, 22 reports of illegal tobacco being sold in the borough was made.

A total of 90 per cent of the reports referred to sales from small shops with the remainder from people's homes.

Trading Standards North West lead on tobacco, Kate Pike, added: "In the first year of Keep it Out, Bolton had a huge increase in intelligence reports received which led to an increase of 45 per cent in the number of illegal cigarettes seized.

"Many of the reports also inform of other illegal products being sold, including alcohol and nitrous oxide to children.

“These reports are all being investigated currently to determine what action to take.

"Rest assured action will be taken to remove any and all dangerous and illegal products from sale in Bolton.”

This Is Lancashire:

A girl takes a cigarette out from an illegal tobacco pack in the Keep it Out campaign video 

Bolton Council has expressed its concerns over the findings from the campaign.

Executive cabinet member for environment regulatory services at the council, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, said: “It’s deeply concerning to hear that illegal tobacco continues to be sold in our communities in Bolton, and we are grateful to the Keep it Out campaign for the work they are doing to highlight this problem.

"Illegal tobacco presents an even greater risk to our health than legally sold tobacco.

"It is unregulated, its packaging comes with no health warnings and it can much more easily find its way into the hands of children.

“Whether it is traders selling these products in shops, or people selling them privately from their homes or on the streets, this is breaking the law.

"The council, through our Trading Standards teams, will not hesitate to prosecute those responsible.

"Please stop and think before you buy these illegal products – you are putting yourself at risk and the only people who will profit are criminals, including gangs with links to human trafficking, loan sharks and drugs.

"It’s just not worth it, and only those who trade in human misery will gain from it.”