Claire Burgess Alcohol & Tobacco Control Officer, Medway Public Health Team, Chatham
The Illegal Tobacco ‘Keep It Out’ campaign has been running in Medway since 2011. In 2015 it was decided to combine illegal alcohol messages into the campaign, therefore making it an Illegal Sales Campaign. The campaign was lead by Medway Public Health team but in partnership with the local Trading Standards Team, HMRC, Police & sniffer dog company - BWY Canine. The focus of the campaign was to raise awareness of how to recognise illegal alcohol and tobacco, signpost to support/treatment services and promote reporting options in Medway. Between August to October numerous high street stands were organised incorporating sniffer dog searches, ‘Spot the Fake’ workshops were delivered to youth centres, new promotional materials were designed and online digital promotion was scheduled via social media. The campaign generated 19 pieces of intelligence which resulted in seizures amounting to 90,000 cigarettes & 23kg of hand rolling tobacco, and three shop evictions.
This campaign highlighted the importance of face to face engagement as the majority of intelligence reports were received at events. Reports from the public were essential to the success of this campaign as they enabled the local enforcement teams to take action.