Council and health officials in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, are attempting to stub out illicit tobacco sales this summer with a new campaign directed at parents.

Unscrupulous dealers were to be likely to be looking for teenage customers over the school holidays, the campaign warns.

Ailsa Rutter, director of the Smoke Free North East scheme Fresh, said: “During the school holidays, children will be out and about with friends and we need to ensure illegal tobacco sellers aren’t able to turn this into a business opportunity. We need to ensure children don’t end up as the customers.

“All smoking kills but illegal tobacco is an easy source of tobacco to get children hooked on.”

Parents are being urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or Middlesbrough Trading Standards on 01642 728869.

In the last 12 months alone Middlesbrough Council’s Trading Standards team have seized nearly 78,000 cigarettes and 13kg of hand rolling tobacco, much of which was counterfeit, councillor Julia Rostron added.

“Some of this haul was destined for sale to children, which is totally unacceptable. We are determined to stamp out this evil trade which is often linked to other criminal activity.”