Trading standards officers from Croydon Council, with essential help from a four-legged friend, have confiscated thousands of cigarettes and other tobacco products from three shops suspected of selling counterfeit and illegal goods.
The trading standards officers were assisted by specialist sniffer dogs as they seized non-duty paid imported products and suspected counterfeit tobacco, including 10,000 counterfeit cigarettes from a shop in South Croydon, a shop in West Croydon selling 1,400 suspected counterfeit cigarettes and more than 70 packets of hand-rolling tobacco, and a shop in Thornton Heath selling around 20 packets of hand-rolling tobacco.
Sniffer dogs also found suspected counterfeit Benson and Hedges cigarettes and fake Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco, cigarillos and menthol dual capsules that became illegal earlier this year. Officers also confiscated banned oral tobacco.
Anyone convicted of being involved in selling or supplying illegal tobacco can face 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Selling mislabelled cigarettes can also land retailers with a fine and potentially between three months and two years in prison.
Customers can spot illegal cigarettes because they may not include the correct health warnings or are written in foreign languages. Illegal tobacco is often kept away from the shop counter, and it is also sold via social media or in private houses.
If you suspect that tobacco you bought may be on sale illegally, report it to Citizens’ Advice on 03454 040506.
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These stories crop up from time to time and I’m always conflicted – counterfeit or not tobacco kills. I know it’s the law, about the health warnings etc but perhaps we should expect the Tobacco Barons to police this, not for us to pick up the tab, if you’ll excuse the term