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Illegal cigarettes campaign launched after death of Lincolnshire woman

A new fire safety campaign has been launched in Lincolnshire to highlight the dangers of smoking illegal cigarettes, after 71-year-old June Buffham died in a house fire.

The campaign started with the launch of a Smokefree Lincolnshire-funded video, which graphically shows how quickly fires started by smoking materials can destroy homes and claim lives.

Over 20,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized in recent years during police raids. Jin Lings, which are one of the brands spotlighted in the appeal, are illegal in the EU.

Alongside Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Lincolnshire Trading Standards, June’s daughter Julie Grant from Swineshead is speaking out about her tragic story.

“The date will haunt and stay with me forever” said Julie. “I’ll never forget hearing those words: there has been a fire at home and your mum is dead.

“The cause was put down as accidental death caused by a cigarette being dropped in her chair.

“Mum had not stood a chance. They assured me that within seconds she would have been overcome by the toxic fumes before the fire engulfed her.”

Fire damage caused by illegal cigarettes. Photo: LCC
Fire damage caused by illegal cigarettes. Photo: LCC

Dave Ramscar, Chief Fire Officer at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Chair of Smokefree Lincolnshire, said: “This is such a sad case, and one which we unfortunately see time and time again – some where people have sadly died, like in June’s case.

“In the past two years, all domestic fire fatalities in Lincolnshire were caused, in some way, by smoking materials, and, so far this year, we have seen another two smoking related fire deaths.”

Jin Ling cigarettes have been seized from a number of stores across Lincolnshire. They are illegal in the EU. Photo: LCC
Jin Ling cigarettes have been seized from a number of stores across Lincolnshire. They are illegal in the EU. Photo: LCC

Emma Milligan, Principal Trading Standards Officer at Lincolnshire County Council, continues to work with HMRC and Lincolnshire Police to crack down on the sale of Jin Ling cigarettes in Lincolnshire.

She said: “Jin Ling cigarettes are so dangerous because they don’t go out when not actively being smoked, potentially causing a horrendous house fire, like the case here.

“Since 2013, we’ve seized over 138,000 illegal and counterfeit cigarettes in the county, but we recognise that we need to do more.”
If you suspect anyone of selling cheap, illegal cigarettes, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you are concerned or need some advice, you can call Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue on 01522 580397.