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South Shields’ tab houses target kids

Children as young as eight are being exploited by criminals and criminal gangs running so-called ‘tab houses’, health officials have warned.

There are thought to more than 200 bootleg traders in the South Shields borough selling cheap cigarettes and tobacco – often to youngsters.

Coun Emma Lewell, the council’s lead member for independent and healthy lives, said: “Our young people are being exploited by criminals and criminal gangs.”

“Counterfeit tobacco is uncontrolled. It’s not subject to testing and, because it’s cheap, is often sold to children, especially in poorer communities.”

“Children can quickly become addicted to cigarettes and, unfortunately, many of them remain hooked for the rest of their lives.”

However, South Tyneside Council’s trading standards team, Northumbria Police, health chiefs and customs officers, along with regional anti-smoking group Fresh, are working together to tackle the problem.

Read the full story here.

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