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    30,000 illegal cigarettes seized in North Tyneside

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    More than 30,000 illegal cigarettes are seized as part of a crackdown in North Tyneside.

    According to local reports, authorities used tobacco detection dogs to uncover tobacco products concealed in several shops. These dogs are trained to locate tobacco in hidden compartments, such as in ceiling areas, behind panels and under floorboards.

    A total of 30,760 illicit cigarettes and more than 9kg of hand-rolling tobacco were seized from two establishments in the Whitley Bay and Wallsend areas. The total duty not paid on these products is approximately £19,500. In addition, 312 non-compliant e-cigarettes were seized from one of the shops.

    The seizures have been part of an operation by officers from North Tyneside Council’s Trading Standards team, in collaboration with Northumbria Police, to combat the illegal supply of cigarettes and tobacco in North Tyneside.

    North Tyneside Council has been prosecuting individuals linked to the illicit tobacco trade since February this year. The council has secured five closure orders against shops found selling illegal tobacco products, with each premises required to remain closed for three months, with three of those closure orders extended for a further three months.

    Councilor Karen Clark, Cabinet Member for Public Health, said, “One in two people who smoke long-term will die because of smoking, whether they smoke legal or illegal tobacco. The supply of illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime as it undermines efforts to encourage people to quit smoking, and it has links to organised crime gangs who use money made from the supply of illegal tobacco to fund other criminal activities.

    “Products such as these can cause real harm in our communities, and sniffer dogs like Cooper, Griff, and Bran play a vital role in uncovering fake, illegal tobacco and cigarettes. It’s a real success for our teams and the police to take so many of these items out of circulation.”

    Inspector Jennifer Bushby, of Northumbria Police, said, “This is a fantastic result and we are pleased to have helped take these illegal and harmful goods off the streets.

    “Some people may think the selling of counterfeit items is a victimless crime, but quite often it can be a product of organised crime. Groups can supply them into the region with the intention of making money, which enables them to continue to fund further illicit activities.

    “This joint operation with North Tyneside Council is just part of the year-round activity we undertake, alongside partners, which reinforces our commitment to tackling this type of crime across our communities.”

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