Staffordshire Trading Standards has seized more than £26,000 worth of illegal tobacco and vapes in four recent raids of business premises in Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
The seizures, which were made as part of Operation CeCe – an ongoing initiative backed by National Trading Standards and HMRC – were supported by Staffordshire Police and specialist dog search team BWY Canine.
The team seized some 33,000 illicit cigarettes, 4.48kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco and 658 illegal vapes. Many of the items were discovered in sophisticated hiding places in the premises.
“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. Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit goods in Staffordshire should call the Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356.”
In the last financial year (April 2022 to March 2023), Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service uncovered more than 1 million illegal cigarettes and 116kg of illegal tobacco. The estimated street value for the year’s haul is around £325,000.