Illicit tobacco: Qualitative research
Summary of findings
- Many smokers are tied to the habit, starting smoking from a young age, with much of their routine and lifestyle entrenched in smoking.
- Some wish to quit, some have tried for a time, but ultimately the desire to smoke outweighs motivations to quit.
- Smokers feel increasingly pressurised to quit as smoking becomes less socially acceptable.
- Health is not a key motivator to quit.
- 47% had purchased ‘fake or snide’ cigarettes. 27% did so weekly or more; biased toward males in city centre and Lundwood.
- Bulk buying at low cost appears a key motivator to purchasing cheap and illicit tobacco.
- This leads to a stockpile of cigarettes in the house; a barrier to quitting.
- Widespread acceptability of chap tobacco means it is not seen as an issue for many
- For purchasers, the key barrier of fake cigarettes is the distastefulness. Also, short-term effects on health from unknown ingredients.
- Unknown ingredients in the fake cigarettes is a major barrier to purchase. However, many do not see them as fake, and so there are no barriers to these people.
- Many have faith in the seller, believing they would not knowingly sell fakes.
- Linked is the perception that they would not sell to under 18’s.
- A high proportion consider it important that their tobacco is real.
- Confidence in the source only dips if purchasing from a stranger.
- Because the majority of sellers are friends (or family) many do not perceive a difference between themselves and sellers.
- Taste is critical in determining which cigarettes are smoked.
- The main danger of selling is getting caught.
- Majority would not report sellers.
Who to target?
- Key role of educating children from a young age – they can act as advocates in dissuading parents from smoking
- Lundwood is a key area to target
- Most reactive to messages would be females and cigarette rather than HRT smokers.
How to target?
- Advise against free phone reporting number (lack of willingness to report)
- Potential for localised stop smoking services?
- Explore ways to communicate via community based viral word of mouth tactics (more effective than local ad campaigns)
- Should local ads be used, must not be seen as coming from stereotyped ‘authorities’
- Need a joined up approach from all stakeholders (police HMRC, Trading Standards)
Messages to target
- Demonstrate how, when buying real tobacco, money will in fact come back to them
- Raise awareness of purchasing cheap and illicit tobacco as a crime
- Raise awareness of illicit purchasing by minors
- Communicate and enforce penalties for sellers
- Use the link between selling illicit tobacco and other major crime to break perception of acceptability
- Educate how to spot a fake
- Challenge buyers faith and relationship with cheap cigarette seller and the product itself.
- To gain insight in to Barnsley residents who buy and sell cheap and illicit tobacco
- To explore attitudes to buying and selling cheap and illicit tobacco
- To measure the scale of the cheap and illicit tobacco problem in Barnsley
- To clearly identify and define market segments within the target audience
- To identify potential triggers, motivators and barriers to behaviour change
- The current situation with the smuggling of cheap and illicit tobacco is an international problem that requires a range of action to be taken
- Unless smuggling is counteracted at all levels – international, national, regional and local – the impact of other tobacco control measures will be seriously undermined
- Criminal activity in this illicit trade also tends to target the most vulnerable smokers, those in deprived areas and the young, increasing health inequalities further
- Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs estimate that approximately half of all tobacco sold in Barnsley is cheap and illicit
Research to explore the market for buying and selling cheap and illicit tobacco amongst Barnsley residents, and to identify triggers, motivators and barriers to behaviour change.
- Qualitative: 16 to 60. Mix of life-stage.
- Quantitative: 18 to 55+
Stage 1: Desk research
Stage 2: Qualitative research
- 8x 1.25 hr friendship triads
- 4x 1.5 hr stakeholder depth interviews
Stage 2: Quantitative research
- 163x 15 minute street intercept interviews to validate qualitative findings
Further Qualitative research
- 2x 1.5 hr discussion groups looking at the interventions developed.
The report (and this summary) covers Stage 2 of the research only.
Data collection methodology
- 8x friendship triads (i.e. 24 people in all)
- 4x stakeholder depth interviews (i.e. 4 people)
- 163x street interviews (i.e. 163 people)
Barnsley Town Centre, Dearne Valley and Lundwood