Over 3,500 illegal cigarettes seized from shops in Northampton in trading standards crackdown
The cigarettes are suspected to be counterfeits of popular brands, which are likely to contain harmful substances and may not self-extinguish
More than 3,500 packets of illegal cigarettes were seized from various shops in Northampton as part of an operation led by Trading Standards officers.
The illicit haul was sniffed out by tobacco detection dogs across 15 Northampton shops as part of the operation led by West Northamptonshire Council and Northamptonshire Police.
A total of 1,129 packets of illegal cigarettes were seized from one shop, while 2,483 packets were seized from another. Packets of illegal hand rolling tobacco were also found at both shops.
Portfolio holder for community safety and engagement, and regulatory services on West Northamptonshire Council, Councillor David Smith, said: "The import and sale of illegal tobacco causes serious harm in our communities, undermining public health, facilitating the supply of tobacco to young people, and damaging legitimate businesses which are unable to compete.
"It also deprives the UK of vital revenue which could be used to fund essential public services.
"The Trading Standards team at West Northamptonshire Council take a very tough stance on the issue, and regularly work with our partners to tackle the problem. I hope the results of this operation send a strong message that if shopkeepers deal in illegal tobacco, they should expect to be caught."
All of the items were illegally imported into the UK without duty being paid and do not comply with the legal packaging and labelling requirements.
A number of them are also suspected to be counterfeits of popular brands, which are likely to contain harmful substances and may not self-extinguish, presenting increased health and safety risks
The operation was held as part of a national disruption exercise funded by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Chair of the National Trading Standards Board, Lord Toby Harris, aded: "The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law.
"The National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC is playing a significant role in disrupting this illicit trade and is helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets."
Further investigations are now underway to decide what action should be taken against the shop owners.
If you suspect someone is selling illegal tobacco in Northamptonshire, please report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.