A stash of illegal tobacco and cigarettes – with a retail value of almost £30,000 – has been uncovered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team during an operation in the city.
More than 55,000 cigarettes (2,794 packs) and 21kg of hand-rolling tobacco were found after an intelligence-led search warrant was executed at a shop and a storage facility in the city centre.
Council trading standards officers are now investigating the owners of the properties. Anyone prosecuted and convicted of being involved in selling or supplying illegal tobacco can face penalties including up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Fake tobacco is banned because it often contains dangerous ingredients not usually found in cigarettes. There is no quality control over the content of fake tobacco, duty tax has not been paid and every purchase encourages illegal trade.
Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “In the last nine months our trading standards team has confiscated around £200,000 worth of illegal tobacco and cigarettes in the city. Our officers are doing a brilliant job in using intelligence to target premises suspected of dealing in illicit goods, but it is disappointing people are still breaking the law in this way.
“The sale of illegal cigarettes poses a major public health risk and damages our economy, so this seizure by our trading standards team protects both customers and law-abiding businesses. Getting involved in the sale or supply of fake cigarettes is a serious offence that can leave you facing court action and a criminal record, so always be careful about what you buy and who from.”
Anyone with information should call the Fakes Hotline on 01782 238444.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.