An ongoing operation to tackle the sale of illegal tobacco and vapes in Staffordshire has made seizures worth £26,810.
Four raids, at premises in Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands, resulted in the seizure of 33,000 illicit cigarettes, 4.48kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco and 658 illegal vapes. These items were discovered in sophisticated hiding places in the premises.
Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards officers were supported by Staffordshire Police, Immigration Compliance and Enforcement team and BWY Canine a specialist dog search team. The raids were part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle the supply and sale of illegal tobacco.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said, “Taking illegal tobacco and vapes off the streets remains a priority for our Trading Standards team and this latest raid shows that sadly some traders are still prepared to break the law.
“The availability of illegal tobacco and e-cigarettes damages local communities, is harmful to those using them and helps fund criminal gangs. It’s something we’re working hard with our partners to tackle and we’re pleased with the latest seizures and removing the items from sale.
“We are also seeing a steady increase in the availability of illegal vapes and the sale of them to young people which is a worrying trend.”
In the last financial year (April 2022 to March 2023), Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service have uncovered more than 1,000,000 illegal cigarettes and 116kg of illegal tobacco. The estimated street value for the year’s haul is around £325,000.