83,000 illegal cigarettes seized in Northamptonshire in last three months

Illegal cigarettes discovered in a secret room in Northamptonshire

Illegal cigarettes discovered in a secret room in Northamptonshire

Around 83,000 cigarettes have been seized in the county in the last three months as part of a crackdown on illegal tobacco.

Among the hauls were 50,000 cigarettes found hidden in a secret room at one premises, and about 1,900 pouches of hand rolling tobacco which were uncovered by a police sniffer dog at another.

A police sniffer dog searching for illegal cigarettes

A police sniffer dog searching for illegal cigarettes

The raids have been carried out by Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards service and Northamptonshire Police, but neither organisation is releasing details of the locations due to investigations being ongoing.

During the raids, which were carried out at shops, off licenses, pubs and private addresses, trading standards also found illegal alcohol, medicines, dangerous lighters and fake clothing.

Police also seized a large quantity of cash and two vehicles associated with criminal activity.

Tobacco smuggling is said to cost the UK economy nearly £3 billion a year, and is often linked to other criminal activity such as drugs and people trafficking.

Cabinet member for environment, Councillor Ben Smith (Con, Greens Norton) said: “Sales of illegal cigarettes are usually done under the counter, as the tobacco is often either smuggled or counterfeit and hasn’t been put through proper quality control processes as to what it contains.

“This means that not only do sales of illegal tobacco harm the interests of honest businesses, they also pose a risk to your health. In many cases, it is significantly more dangerous than legitimate tobacco with high levels of nicotine, tar and heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. Some samples have even been found to contain rat droppings and asbestos.”

Illegal tobacco sales can be reported to Trading Standards by calling 08454 040506 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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