A crackdown on the illegal tobacco trade and the sale of cigarettes to children will begin across the area today.
More than a third of smokers in the area have been offered illegal tobacco while 17 per cent admit to buying it, according to a survey published at the start of the ‘Keep it Out’ campaign.
Enforcement measures will be accompanied by adverts, posters and the launch of a new website in a joint effort by West Yorkshire Trading Standards and the area’s six councils, including Leeds, Kirklees and Wakefield.
Illegal tobacco and under-age smoking are seen as connected issues because the sale of smuggled or counterfeit products gives young people a route to access tobacco.
In addition to the impact on health, the authorities also have concerns about the use of money from illegal tobacco sales being used to support other criminal activity.
Efforts to tackle illegal tobacco sales have had some success with one in ten cigarettes now thought to come from illegal sources compared to one in five in 2000.
There is also growing public awareness of the problem with six out of ten people questioned in the survey describing it as an important issue for their community and 85 per cent worried about young people getting hold of tobacco.