Tower Hamlets Trading Standards has disrupted a major illicit tobacco and vaping distribution operation, seizing more than £27,000 worth of goods in the run-up to Christmas.
During enforcement operations over two days in December 2023, Officers assisted by specially trained tobacco detection dogs provided by Wagtail Ltd confiscated more than 35,300 illegal cigarettes and 1,235 vapes from premises in Whitechapel and Mile End.
The illicit goods were found in secret storage areas and included suspected counterfeit and smuggled products that cannot be legally sold in the UK. An investigation is now pending.
Councillor Abu Talha Chowdhury, Tower Hamlets Cabinet Member of Community Safety, said: “Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including young children, to smoke by providing a cheap source. It is important to clamp down on this activity as it also brings crime into our neighbourhoods, which is why our Trading Standards Officers are proactive in disrupting this illicit trade. This also has an impact on legitimate business who are trading legally.
“Traders will need to know that they will face prosecution if they choose to deal in these illegal products.”
Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets Executive Mayor, said: “We will continue to work tirelessly to protect the public from being scammed by rogue traders and will not hesitate in prosecuting anyone selling illegal items as part of our commitment to making Tower Hamlets safer.
“Our Trading Standards team is completely focused on disrupting counterfeiting rings that fuel organised crime.”