North Lincolnshire Council has seized 45,000 illicit cigarettes and 11 kilograms of tobacco with a street value of around £25,000 from three premises in Scunthorpe.
The products were found on two premises on Frodingham Road and one on Cemetery Road during raids conducted by the council’s Trading Standards Team.
It was part of Operation Genie that aims to crack down on the supply of illicit tobacco and involved test purchasers attempting to buy cheap cigarettes from a number of target premises across North Lincolnshire, followed by a team of Trading Standards Officers visiting the premises.
The seizure included a combination of counterfeit, non-duty and ‘illicit whites’ (not real brands; they are made specifically for the illicit tobacco trade) that cannot be legally sold in the UK. The raids were conducted as a result of information provided by the public and other traders.
At one premises, a newly constructed secret compartment was discovered and at another, a purpose built cupboard was found both containing large amounts of illicit tobacco.
In total, six successful test purchases were made and 44,145 cigarettes and 11.05 kilograms of hand rolling tobacco products were seized.
There are a number of safety concerns about counterfeit and ‘illicit whites’ as there are often foreign bodies, such as plastic or dangerous additions included to bulk out the tobacco in these products. It is often the case that the cigarettes do not self-extinguish when being smoked like the genuine ones do; this has been attributed to deaths from house fires across the region in the past.
Trading Standards’ investigations are continuing, but as always the team would welcome any information from the public on the sale of illicit tobacco from any premises or persons in North Lincolnshire.
To report any concerns you may have, contact Trading Standards on 01724 297664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Richard Hannigan, cabinet member for Cleaner, Greener and Safer Places, said: “It is totally unacceptable for people to think they can get away with selling illicit tobacco and cigarettes. It is illegal and these people will face the consequences. They are putting people’s lives at risk.
“If you have any concerns about people or premises selling illicit goods, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Trading Standards team to report it. We rely on the public to help catch these criminals.
“Let this be a warning to not only those who deal in illegal products but those who knowingly buy illegal goods as they can be very dangerous. You don’t always know what is in these products. Please ensure you only buy products from a reputable supplier and don’t take the risk of buying counterfeit goods.”