A haul of illicit tobacco and cigarettes – with a street value of more than £90,000 – has been uncovered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team during an operation in the city.
More than 10,000 packs of cigarettes and 17kg of hand-rolling tobacco were found as they searched two shops in Shelton and one in Hanley on the back of information received from the public.
The operation on Thursday, May 31 was supported by Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Unitas and a detection dog and dog handler from Wagtail UK. A full investigation into the discoveries is now under way.
Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “This is another fantastic result for our trading standards team following on from a similar operation in February, which saw £80,000 worth of illegal tobacco confiscated from five shops in the city. These kind of operations show how our officers are using intelligence to target premises suspected of dealing in illicit tobacco, and the support we received from partner agencies was fantastic.
“The goods seized were suspected of being counterfeit or duty evaded and not complying with standard packaging and health warning requirements. Sellers rarely care who they sell to, so it’s easier for children to get their hands on cigarettes and get addicted. They are also harming legitimate businesses and damaging communities. We will always take action against anyone found to be involved in the storage, distribution or supply of illegal tobacco and full investigations have now been launched into these seizures. People may think it’s a victimless crime, but it’s far from it and the consequences can be far-reaching.
“More and more people over the past few years have decided enough is enough and are providing information to stop the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco. If you have information about any people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco products in your community, please let us know.”
Anyone with information should call the Fakes Hotline on 01782 238444.
Call the press office on 01782 232987.