A crackdown on illegal tobacco in which Hertfordshire County Council is involved has led to 175,000 cigarettes being seized in the east of England.

One in three smokers in the region said in a recent survey they had been offered illegal tobacco.

Hertfordshire County Council along with Tobacco Free Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire NHS, Trading Standards and Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service is supporting a campaign led by Smoke Free East of England.

HM Revenue & Customs, the East of England Trading Standards Association, and the NHS are also working to tackle the problem.

Guy Pratt, the council’s assistant director of community protection said: "Cutting off the supply of cheap illegal tobacco to children is a key part of our strategy to stop young people from taking up smoking and is just one element of our ongoing work to combat illegal tobacco in Hertfordshire.

"We are determined to protect future generations from the harm caused by tobacco and by working with other agencies on this campaign we have been able to remove significant quantities of illicit cigarettes and tobacco from the market place."

Smoking is Hertfordshire’s biggest cause of health inequality with around one in five adults using tobacco.

Richard Thake, cabinet member for community protection, said: "The sale of smuggled cigarettes is unregulated and damages the whole community.

"It is often sold to children and financially disadvantaged people with honest local shopkeepers suffering when sales are lost to criminals who peddle these illegal goods.

"The revenue evaded also means money which could have been spent on public services for the benefit of the community is lost."

Since 2000, HMRC has seized 20 billion cigarettes nationally which are valued at £4.5 billion and around 2,700 tonnes of rolling tobacco. More than 3,300 people have been prosecuted as a result.