More than 65,000 illegal cigarettes seized in Stevenage
- Credit: Herts County Council
More than 65,000 cigarettes have been seized in Stevenage following a two-day operation led by Hertfordshire Trading Standards.
In total Trading Standards - with the help of Herts police and a sniffer dog - took in a hoard of 79,000 cigarettes and over a kilo of tobacco from premises' in Stevenage, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Borehamwood.
The specially trained dog accompanied Hertfordshire County Council’s trading standards officers who carried out inspections across the county to identify and disrupt the supply of illegal tobacco.
Acting on prior intelligence, the biggest haul was uncovered in Stevenage, after officers targeted retail premises and a vehicle.
A total of 972 cigarettes were seized from a retail premises and a further 64,761 cigarettes and 223 pouches of hand rolling tobacco were uncovered from the vehicle.
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The Hertfordshire-wide initiative took place under Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards campaign in partnership with HMRC, to tackle illegal tobacco.
The seized products will now be fully assessed to determine the exact offences that have been committed.
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Enquiries and investigations are now ongoing.
Andrew Butler, assistant director of community protection, said: “This successful operation is part of our ongoing strategy to tackle the sale of illegal tobacco.
“Not only do those involved in the distribution of illegal tobacco undermine legitimate businesses, they also encourage people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source.
“This campaign should send out a clear warning to shopkeepers that we will take action to stop illicit trading of this nature.
"Any business owners who are unclear about the law should contact us for advice.”
To contact Hertfordshire Trading Standards for business advice, click here.