13th February 2023

Illicit tobacco seized in NE Lincs

Trading Standards Officers and police seized illicit cigarettes and tobacco as part of Operation CeCe.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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Multi-agency operations such as these are keeping these products, that do not meet safety standards and are putting lives at risk, off the streets

A bumper haul of illicit cigarettes, tobacco and vapes has been seized from businesses in Grimsby and Cleethorpes as part of a multi-agency operation by North East Lincolnshire Trading Standards and Humberside Police.

A total of 172,000 illegal cigarettes, 79.25kg of tobacco, 1.15kg of shisha and 1,662 disposable vapes were seized during raids of five businesses on 19 January. Officers from North East Lincolnshire Council commercial regulatory team, including Trading Standards were supported by specialist search dogs from BWY Canine Ltd.

Bags and boxes full of the illicit cigarettes, tobacco and vapes seized (credit: North East Lincolnshire Council)

The raids were part Operation CeCe, a joint venture between National Trading Standards and HMRC to tackle illicit tobacco sales.

The illicit cigarettes and tobacco seized had an estimated street value of £60,435 and a legitimate value of £149,552. The legitimate value of the vapes would be £18,282.

Officers will review their findings and follow-up with enforcement action where necessary.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “Multi-agency operations such as these are keeping these products, that do not meet safety standards and are putting lives at risk, off the streets. We know illicit and fake cigarettes do not comply with the Reduced Ignition Propensity requirements and won’t self-extinguish, so are likely to start a fire.”

Inspector Matt Stringer, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Grimsby East, said: “This operation demonstrates the importance of different agencies working together in order to make our communities safer, which my teams are absolutely committed to doing.”

Lord Michael Bichard, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. Having removed 21 million illegal cigarettes, 5,800kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.”

Since the commencement of Operation CeCe in January 2021, the North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards team have seized more than 1,083,220 illegal cigarettes (54,161 packs) and 332.2kg of tobacco (6,644 pouches), with a legitimate value of £833,701 and a street value of more than £343,889.

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