A crackdown on illicit tobacco and vaping products by Worcestershire Trading Standards in April and May has resulted in the seizure of more than 9,000 illegal cigarettes and almost 5,000 illegal vapes.
Officers from Worcestershire Trading Standards, supported by West Mercia Police and sniffer dogs from BWY Canine Ltd, visited 18 premises in Kidderminster, Redditch and Bromsgrove during a five-day period. They uncovered a total of 9,112 illicit cigarettes, 2.5kg of illegal hand-rolling tobacco and 4,648 non-compliant vapes. Many of the cigarettes seized are suspected to be counterfeit and non-self-extinguishing, while the vapes failed to comply with labelling regulations and may contain illegal levels of nicotine and other harmful chemicals.
The premises investigated were identified by extensive intelligence-gathering by the Trading Standards team.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member for Communities at Worcestershire County Council, said: “Our Trading Standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products from across the marketplace in Worcestershire and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law.”
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.”