Northumberland premises found to be selling illegal tobacco again
More than 12,000 illicit cigarettes and numerous packets of hand rolling tobbaco worth £4,000 have been seized.
Officers from Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards attended three business premises in the Ashington area after intelligence indicated that local shops were supplying the items.
Accompanied by officers from Northumbria Police, the premises were checked for cheap black-market tobacco and stashes were found in highly concealed areas of the business premises such as refuse bins, false flooring and cupboards.
The businesses are now under criminal investigation.
It is the second such targeted inspection in the area this year.
In August, two premises were inspected and £4,000 of illegal tobacco was seized. These two premises were again involved in the recent inspections and found once again, despite being under criminal investigation for previous offences, to be in possession of illegal tobacco.
Cllr Colin Horncastle, cabinet member with responsibility for Public Protection, said: "I would like to thank the public for providing the information we received which informed us of the illegal activity.
"Through these targeted operations we get illegal products off the street and help to ensure that children are kept safe and smoke free.
“I hope this sends out a strong and clear message, that we will not tolerate this criminal activity and there is no hiding place.
"You may not know it – but we are on to you.”
Northumberland County Council has been backing the Keep it Out campaign from Fresh which has generated thousands of pieces of information about illegal tobacco to help trading standards take action.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said: “One in two long term smokers will die from smoking whether it is illegal or legal – but illegal tobacco smoking fuels ill health even more and gets kids hooked.
"Dealers are linked to criminality and do not care if local children buy it.
“Tackling illegal tobacco is vital to make smoking history for future generations and help reduce the misery of smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease problems in local communities.
"This is more excellent work from Northumberland County Council’s trading standards to take it off the streets.”