Mason Moore | Hinckley Reporter | 22 April 2023
OVER 1 MILLION illegal cigarettes were seized in the nearby county of Warwickshire in the last 18 months by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Team.
1,008,660 cigarettes which were either counterfeit or non-duty paid were seized by Trading Standards officers after carrying out raids on suspected shops in the county.
This is in addition to the 5,733 packets of illegal hand rolling tobacco which was seized, and weighed nearly 300kg.
A county council spokesperson stated that if these products had been genuine, they would have sold for £778,000, with a value as illegal products of £320,000.
In recent years, the Trading Standards Officers have been busy to act on the concerns surrounding the availability of illegal vapes. In the last year alone, they have seized 10,100, which deprived the sellers of an income of £120,000.
They have also been working alongside landlords of these ‘problem’ shops to evict the sellers.
Jonathon Toy, Service Manager Trading Standards and Community Safety said: “Whilst I am shocked by the sheer number of illegal cigarettes this service has seized in such a short period of time, I’m delighted that we are protecting the health of Warwickshire residents while we continue to disrupt the sale of these products and deprive their sellers and the organised crime groups they work for, of significant sums of money.”
He continued: “The availability of illegal cigarettes, often sold at pocket money prices makes it easier for children to start smoking and get hooked and more difficult for existing smokers to quit their habit.
“We also know that sellers have strong links with criminal gangs and the money they make may end up supporting drug dealing, money laundering and people trafficking.
“We are also concerned by the availability of illegal vapes, and I’m pleased we are continuing to disrupt their sale in Warwickshire”, he concluded.
Once seized, all of the illegal products are destroyed, and any of the legal proceedings are concluded.
Anybody who knows of retailers selling illegal cigarettes, tobacco, or nicotine inhaling vapes can report them to Warwickshire Trading Standards, using the Central England Trading Standards Authorities confidential fakes hotline, by calling 0300 303 2636.