A campaign to clamp down on illicit tobacco sales in the South West of England has entered its second phase.

Smokefree South West, HM Revenue & Customs, police, primary care trusts and local councils originally came together for the launch of the Illegal Tobacco Keep It Out campaign back in 2011.

The second phase will see public engagement events run in each of the South West’s 15 local authority regions throughout March, helping to educate the general public on the health risks associated with illicit tobacco.

Billboards highlighting the dangers and “real costs” of illicit tobacco, such as its links with organised crime, will also be located across the region.

“The only people who benefit from this trade are the criminals who don’t care about what is in the packets they sell,” Fiona Andrews, Smokefree South West director said. “It is vital that steady, sustained pressure continues to be applied.”

Members of the public are also being urged to show their support for the campaign by signing an “anonymous pledge” on the website www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.

The online document sends an instant message of concern about the impact of illicit trade to individuals’ local councillors.

Leaflets and posters for retailers to download and display in their stores are also available.

The illicit tobacco trade is worth an estimated £211m in the South West with one in five smokers thought to be buying tobacco illegally.