Sniffer dogs helped to discover large amounts of illegal tobacco in raids carried out by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service in Preston on Thursday.
Over 50 packs of contraband cigarettes, tobacco, and tobacco blunts were seized after eight retail premises were visited by Trading Standards, the Police and two sniffer dogs.
The haul included possible counterfeit and non-duty-paid tobacco products which cannot be legally sold in the UK. Eleven bottles labelled as Glen’s vodka were also seized. They are suspected to be counterfeit.
The low price and easy availability of illegal tobacco encourages people to keep smoking, and children and young people are often targeted by unscrupulous traders.
The dogs help to find tobacco, which unscrupulous traders often conceal in unusual places such as hidden compartments and seemingly-empty product boxes.
County Coun Janice Hanson, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “We regularly act on intelligence from the public, and the success of this operation shows that even the smallest piece of intelligence can lead to a good result.
“More and more people are beginning to understand the serious threat that illegal tobacco poses to our communities which also means fewer people tolerate it and are prepared to report their concerns.”
In Preston in the last six months, Trading Standards officers have seized nearly 1,000 packs of illicit tobacco products, with 10 prosecution cases having been dealt with or currently ongoing.
The dogs, named Bradley and Alfie, were provided by Wagtail UK Ltd.
Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco should call the confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111 or report it via the Trading Standards Scambuster Stan Facebook page www.facebook.com/StanleyDards.