Illicit cigarettes and tobacco with a street value of more than £13,000 have been seized by West Sussex Trading Standards in the last six months.
The figures have been revealed to mark World No Tobacco Day tomorrow (May 31) and to encourage people to report the sale of illicit tobacco and cigarettes.
Six separate operations have been carried out over the last few months by the Council’s Trading Standards Service, many with the support of sniffer dogs.
Illicit tobacco has been found in five shops and an ice cream van. It’s also been discovered hidden in the floor of a till area, behind a false electrical socket, behind a false wall and under the floor in a stock room.
Packets of cigarettes have also been found concealed in emptied cereal packets on shop shelves.
In total, 2,068 packets of cigarettes and 494 pouches of tobacco have been seized – with a combined street value of £13,660.
Tests found that some of the cigarettes did not self-extinguish, posing fire risk to consumers who purchase them.
Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resident’s Services with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in illegal tobacco.
“We’re standing up for legitimate local traders whose businesses are being damaged by these shops and traders selling illicit tobacco cheaply and consumers who face increased risks from counterfeit goods which are not checked or regulated.”
West Sussex County Council is also using World Tobacco day to remind people that there is help and support out there for people who do want to give up.
West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing Christine Field added: “World No Tobacco Day raises awareness of the dangers of smoking and tobacco use. Smokefree West Sussex provides free support to anyone wanting to kick the habit and stop smoking.
“Stopping smoking is such a positive thing to do, not just for your health but also for the impact on your family and also financially – money you previously spent on smoking could be much better spent elsewhere.”
For help and advice about smoking cessation, visit www.smokefreewestsussex.co.uk or call 0300 100 1823
Anyone with information regarding the sale of illegal tobacco can pass on information to WSCC’s Trading Standards Service at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport or call Crimestoppers on 08454 04 05 06