Specialist tobacco sniffer dogs discovered over 44,000 suspected illegal cigarettes hidden in vehicles and secret compartments following raids on shops led by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards
Acting on local intelligence, on Thursday 8th December 2016, Warwickshire Trading Standards Officers visited a small ‘corner’ shop in Rugby, accompanied by a sniffer dog team and Warwickshire Police.
A search of the store revealed a huge number of suspected illicit (non-duty paid and counterfeit) cigarettes hidden in a secret compartment behind a wall. The hidden door was operated by an electromagnet and a key fob. In total, 20,640 suspected illicit cigarettes were seized.
Cllr John Horner, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for Community Safety, said:
“The sellers of illegal cigarettes don’t care who they sell to, making it easier for children and young people to obtain cigarettes and get hooked on smoking.
“Cheap illegal cigarettes also threaten the livelihoods of honest and genuine businesses and rob the taxpayer of money that could be spent on schools and hospitals.
“I am delighted that Warwickshire Trading Standards is taking this action to both protect the health of Warwickshire’s young people and support legitimate business.”
Warwickshire County Councillor, Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added:
“Trading Standards Officers will continue to employ specialist sniffer dogs from whom traders will struggle to conceal their illegal tobacco, however clever they believe their tobacco hides to be.”
“I would urge anyone with information about the manufacture or sale of illegal tobacco to report the matter to the confidential fakes hotline or to Crimestoppers.”
Martin Jelley, Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police said:
“I’m delighted with the outcome of this operation. It’s an excellent example of how our Special Constabulary is working in partnership with Trading Standards to take action against the sellers of illegal cigarettes in order to support genuine local businesses and protect the health of our community.”
In all, Trading Standards Officers seized over 44,000 suspected illicit cigarettes and over 4500g of hand rolling tobacco from three shops located in Leamington Spa, Rugby and Nuneaton.
Trading Standards Fakes Hotline Number: 0300 303 2636. 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 quit attempt as successful as possible. Call 0800 085 2917 or visit www.smokefreewarwickshire.org
Warwickshire Trading Standards will not be naming the store whilst investigations are ongoing.