Trading Standards and detection dogs holding an information event today (Monday) in Barnstaple

Enforcement teams and sniffer dogs will take the streets of Barnstaple today (Monday) to ask for the public’s help in tackling the sellers of illegal tobacco.

Officers from Devon and Somerset Trading Standards supported by Smokefree South West will be joined by tobacco detection dogs Scamp, Phoebe and Yoyo at the Illegal Tobacco Mobile Unit hosted by Tesco Extra, Seven Brethren, from 10am to 4pm.

The information about where the illegal tobacco is being sold has often come from the public.

Devon County Council said around one in 20 smokers in Devon smoke illegal tobacco and because of its cheap price it often leads children to start smoking.

The dogs, which are all ex-rescue dogs, have helped officers sniff out thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco which is often hidden behind fake walls or in unusual locations.

The Keep It Out campaign has been running for five years and aims to help the public know what illegal tobacco looks like; what the dangers are and encourages them to keep their eyes open and report illegal tobacco being sold in their neighbourhood.

Since the campaign first launched, the number of smokers buying illegal tobacco in the South West has fallen by more than a fifth (20 per cent) in just three years, from 20 per cent of smokers in 2010, to 16 per cent in 2013.

A recent survey shows that the public are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of illegal tobacco.

Anyone can go along to the event and get information about the problems caused by illegal tobacco in the community.