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    Devon County Council reports largest to date seizure of illegal tobacco

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    Devon County Council Trading standards officers have seized illegal tobacco products and vapes with an estimated value of over £166,000 during a joint operation with police earlier this month. 

    According to the council, officers from Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, accompanied by tobacco detection dogs and Devon & Cornwall Police, discovered a significant quantity of illegal products.

    The seizure, one of the largest to date, consisted of over 18,000 illegal tobacco products (counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes and tobacco) and over 2,000 illegal vapes (not compliant for the UK market).

    A number of people are under investigation by Trading Standards and enquiries remain ongoing.

    Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said, “The removal of illegal tobacco and vapes from entering the marketplace is a high priority for us, and this was yet another successful operation.

    “The service uses detection dogs so regardless of where it is hidden, in a storage container or retail premises, the dogs have the ability to sniff out even small quantities of tobacco that are hidden from view. Retail outlets that sell counterfeit and illicit tobacco are big business and these shops can undercut other local general stores who are trying to operate legally during difficult economic conditions. 

    “Because the tobacco is sold at pocket money prices by criminals who are not interested in asking for proof of age it encourages children and young people to start smoking. Illegal tobacco products also present a genuine health risk above and beyond that of legal tobacco as they aren’t subject to the same quality control checks and are often found to contain high levels of contaminates.”

    A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said, “Carrying out this proactive warrant resulted in a significant amount of counterfeit goods being removed from the streets and circulation. I’d like to urge members of the public to report concerns to us so we can continue to disrupt illegal activity.”

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