In support of No Smoking Day 2016, over 38,000 suspected counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes, being sold at only £3 for 20, were seized from concealed compartments and ‘hidey-holes’ in stores in Atherstone, Nuneaton, Rugby and Leamington Spa.
Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Officers, accompanied by Warwickshire Police and Immigration Officers used trained sniffer dog teams to locate suspected illegal cigarettes hidden behind walls, in ceilings, toilets and fridge units.
These latest raids were carried out in support of national No Smoking Day. Most people who smoke take up the habit as children and young people. Illegal tobacco is sold at pocket money prices, making it more easily affordable for under 18s. Reducing its availability helps keep cheap tobacco out of the hands of young people, reducing smoking rates among future generations.
Officers also discovered 6.8 kg of suspected illegal hand rolling tobacco and bottles of potentially counterfeit vodka.
Acting on intelligence, on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th March 2016, WCC Trading Standards Officers, supported by Warwickshire Police and Immigration Officers and a specialist sniffer dog team, made 10 visits to mini-marts, corner shops and newsagents located in Nuneaton, Atherstone, Rugby and Leamington Spa.
Sniffer dogs located tobacco hidden in six stores, as follows:
- 10/3 Rugby: five stores visited and seizures made from two stores. 18170 cigarettes and 2.8 kg hand rolling tobacco seized.
- 10/3 Leamington Spa: one store visited. 3990 cigarettes and 2.3 kg hand rolling tobacco seized.
- 11/3 Atherstone: one store visited. 12880 cigarettes and 1.725 kg rolling tobacco seized
- 11/3 Nuneaton: three stores visited and seizures made from two stores. 3040 cigarettes and three bottles of potentially counterfeit vodka
Shop owners whose stores are found to be selling illegal cigarettes face prosecution, the loss of their alcohol licence and National Lottery terminal.
Anyone found guilty of supplying counterfeit tobacco could face up to 10 years in jail and unlimited fines.
Cllr John Horner, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for Community Safety, said: “Warwickshire Trading standards will continue to carry out these enforcement exercises to support legitimate retailers and taxpayers and help protect the health of children and young people who are often tempted by cheap illegal tobacco.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “I would urge anyone with information about the manufacture or sale of illegal tobacco to report the matter to the confidential fakes hotline (Tel. 0845 894 1008) or to Crimestoppers. If you are a smoker and want help to quit, our quit4good service has helped thousands of smokers in Warwickshire to become smoke free. Research has shown that you are 4 times more likely to stop smoking for good if signed up to the quit4good 12 week programme.”
Warwickshire PC Justin Rai, said: “This was a good result as counterfeit tobacco is often smuggled and distributed by organised crime groups. This is an important seizure of a significant scale for the local areas. I thank the local community for their vital intelligence and ongoing support”.
All the premises were visited as a result of local intelligence.
Warwickshire Trading Standards are not naming the premises at this time.
Investigations are continuing. Anyone prosecuted as a result of this action will be named.
Trading Standards Fakes Hotline Number: 0845 894 1008. Any information you provide will be treated in confidence, and you will remain anonymous.
Crimestoppers telephone number 0800 555 111 Information can be given anonymously and intelligence is passed on to Trading Standards.
Smokers are often attracted to illicit cigarettes because they are cheap but the best way to save money and improve health is to quit for good. Warwickshire’s Stop Smoking Services offer help and support to make every attempt to quit as successful as possible. Call or Text LIFE to 80800 or visit quit4good.co.uk