Sniffer dog finds illegal tobacco

By Niki Hinman, Local Democracy Reporter

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Suspected illegal cigarettes and tobacco by Sniffer dog Cooper
Sniffer dog Cooper (Photo via LDRS)

Sniffer dog Cooper has found a haul of suspected illegal tobacco in West Berkshire.

He assisted officers from the Public Protection Partnership to inspect premises across West Berkshire, Wokingham and Bracknell for illegal tobacco last week.

Cooper, a specialist search dog, led officers to a stock of suspected illegal tobacco in a West Berkshire business, where suspected illegal cigarettes and suspected illegal hand rolling tobacco were seized. The matter will now be fully investigated by Trading Standards officers.

The visits were carried out as part of Operation CeCe, a national Trading Standards’ initiative, in partnership with HMRC, to tackle illegal tobacco.

More than five million illegal cigarettes have already been seized from retail outlets across England and Wales in the first six months of this year as part of Operation CeCe.

The haul of illicit products also includes more than 1,700kg of hand rolled tobacco and 66kg of shisha. In total, more than £2.7 million pounds worth of illegal tobacco products have been taken off the streets since the operation launched in January 2021.

“Illicit tobacco not only deprives the country of the duty that pays for services but undermines health policy,” Cllr Hillary Cole, portfolio member for housing, strategic partnerships and transformation at West Berkshire Council, said.

“The Trading Standards team are at the forefront of tobacco control measures whether it be under age sales, illicit tobacco, counterfeit tobacco or labelling and marketing controls. In addition they work with colleagues from our public health team to run a comprehensive tobacco harm reduction programme with adults and in schools.”