A daughter whose mother died in a Spalding house fire linked to illegal cigarettes, is highlighting the dangers of illicit tobacco.
June Buffham (71) lost her life in April 2012 and the fire is believed to have been caused by an illegal Jin Ling cigarette being dropped.
“I’ll never forget hearing those words ‘there has been a fire at home and your mum is dead’, they will haunt me for the rest of my life,” said Julie Grant.
The cigarettes, along with most illegal brands, did not have ‘speed bumps’ in the paper which cause them to self-extinguish if left unattended.
“I knew that my mum smoked, but I had never really thought about the types of cigarettes she was smoking, just that they were a cheaper brand. And I was totally unaware of the increased risk she was putting herself at by smoking illegal cigarettes.
“If you have family or friends that smoke, do you know about their smoking habits? What kind of cigarettes do they smoke? Do they smoke in the house? Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them and their family until it does,” she said.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards and the county’s fire and rescue service are spearheading Operation June to target illegal cigarette products.
“Since June’s death we’ve cracked down hard on those selling illicit tobacco,” said Emma Milligan, operational delivery manager for Trading Standards.
“It is an ongoing battle as criminals find new, elaborate ways of trying to hide these things,” she added.
Julie said that the smugglers were ‘only thinking about their own financial gain and not ruined lives.’
With any information about illegal tobacco, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.