Detection dogs sniff out illegal cigarettes
More than 25,000 illegal cigarettes and 7.5kg of rolling tobacco have been seized by Trading Standards in an operation targeting parts of the Fens.
Three specially-trained detection dogs uncovered the hidden counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco at shops in March, Wisbech and Godmanchester, near Huntingdon.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s Trading Standards took part in the raids in partnership with Cambridgeshire Police, HM Revenue and Customs and Wagtail International, specialists in detection dogs and dog handler training, last Thursday.
Val Thomas, consultant in public health at the county council, said: “Illicit tobacco is often sold to children and young people, putting their long-term health at serious risk.
“This is not a victimless crime and anyone who suspects the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco should report it.”
Frank Pasfield, a Trading Standards officer for the county council, added: “These raids show our commitment to protecting local people and legitimate businesses who suffer as a result of this illegal trade.
“We will continue to fight this illegal activity. Anyone selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco should expect a visit from our officers and the resulting prosecution.”
Recent figures show that illicit cigarettes and tobacco cost the government between £2 and £3 billion a year in lost revenue, money that officials say could be spent on schools and hospitals.
Anyone suspecting the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco can contact Cambridgeshire Trading Standards on 0345 4040 506 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.