More than 5,000 illegal cigarettes and 70 packets of hand-rolling tobacco have been seized by Trading Standards officers in Worcestershire because they were either counterfeit or illicit.
Officers from Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team and from West Mercia Police's Safer Neighbourhoods Team raided a retail outlet in Worcester City on 13 February 2019. This action followed previous seizures of illegal tobacco from the premises, significant intelligence reports and test purchases.
Sergeant Paul Smith from West Mercia Police's Safer Neighbourhood Team for Worcester said: "This is an excellent demonstration of partnership working between West Mercia Police and the County Council’s Trading Standards team. This will serve as a reminder to those engaged in the sale of illicit products that robust enforcement is taking place and will continue to do so. I hope that it will also demonstrate to the local community our commitment to protect them from this organised criminal activity.”
Worcestershire County Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This is a fine example of our Trading Standards Officers working with the police to stamp out illegal activity in the County. The availability of cheap illicit cigarettes and tobacco in our communities makes it harder for smokers to quit and stay smoke free. These products are significantly cheaper than the legitimate product, undermining the impact of the government’s taxation pressures aimed at persuading people to quit. It also reduces the takings of local honest businesses and cuts the income to the Treasury which funds our public services. The availability of cheap products also makes it much easier for young people to get hold of tobacco, creating a risk to their long term health. Our Trading Standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law."
No arrests were made but the businesses and individuals involved are subject to an ongoing criminal investigation. If you are concerned that a Worcestershire retailer is selling illicit or counterfeit tobacco, you can let Trading Standards know via the “Report It” page on Worcestershire Trading Standards website or telephoning Consumer Direct on 03454 040506.