Over 9,000 illegal cigarettes and almost 5,000 illegal vaping products were found during Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards services latest crackdown across April and May, the council stated on Wednesday (24).
Over a five day period, officers visited 18 premises in the north of the county, in Kidderminster, Redditch, and Bromsgrove. Altogether, 9,112 cigarettes, 2.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco and 4,648 vapes were seized from various shops.
The cigarettes, a proportion of which are suspected to be counterfeits of popular brands could contain harmful substances, may not self-extinguish, and their sale also undermines public health messages about the harms of smoking that support people quitting.
A number of illegal vapes were also seized as part of these operations. They delivered more puffs than permitted by UK law or failed to comply with strict labelling requirements. They may also contain higher than permitted levels of nicotine or harmful chemicals.
Dr Lisa McNally, Director of Public Health for Worcestershire County Council said: “Our Trading Standards team are doing a great job at keeping our residents safe from potentially harmful and dangerous products. We know that the availability of cheap products makes it easier for young people to get hold of tobacco products and take up vaping and this is something we would never encourage, and that we are looking to really crack down on. We are working with our schools and other partners to explore the messages children receive about vaping.
“Vapes can offer a powerful alternative to tobacco and can support adults wanting to give up smoking, but illegal vapes can contain higher than permitted levels of nicotine. There is a place for vaping products that fully comply with the law to help people to give up smoking.”
Councilor Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member for Communities at Worcestershire County Council added: “Our Trading Standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products from across the market place in Worcestershire and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law.”
The operation was led by Worcestershire Trading Standards assisted by Officers from West Mercia Police.
The illicit haul of illegal tobacco was literally sniffed out by specially trained tobacco detection dogs from BWY Canine Ltd.
Trading Standards Officers targeted premises identified after extensive intelligence gathering which had taken place over a protracted period. In 2022, 14,500 illegal noncompliant vaping products were seized.