TRADING Standards officers seized more than 5,000 illegal cigarettes and 70 packets of hand-rolling tobacco because they were either counterfeit or illicit after a raid on a retail premises in Worcester.
Officers from Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team and from West Mercia Police’s Safer Neighbourhoods Team carried out the investigation last Wednesday (February 13). It followed previous seizures of illegal tobacco from the premises, significant intelligence reports and test purchases.
Sgt Paul Smith, from the Safer Neighbourhood Team for Worcester, said: “This will serve as a reminder to those engaged in the sale of illicit products that robust enforcement is taking place and will continue to do so.
“I hope it will also demonstrate to the local community our commitment to protect them from this organised criminal activity.”
County councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, said: “The availability of cheap illicit cigarettes and tobacco in our communities makes it harder for smokers to quit and stay smoke free.
“These products are significantly cheaper than the legitimate product, undermining the impact of the government’s taxation pressures aimed at persuading people to quit. It also reduces the takings of local honest businesses and
cuts the income to the Treasury which funds our public services.
“The availability of cheap products also makes it much easier for young people to get hold of tobacco, creating a risk to their long term health.
“Our Trading Standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law.”
No arrests were made but the businesses and individuals involved are subject to an ongoing criminal investigation.
Visit www.worcestershirets.gov.uk or call Consumer Direct on 03454 040506 for more.