£35,000 of illegal tobacco seized in Newham Trading Standards sting operations


45,000 illegal and dangerous cigarettes removed from the streets. Newham Council’s Trading Standards officers teamed up with specialist detection dogs from “Wagtails” to track down and seize illegal tobacco worth £35,000.

45,000 cigarettes have been taken off the streets, as well as 4kg of hand-rolling tobacco, and other non-compliant or illicit products.

The illegal tobacco haul was uncovered when officers visited retail premises in Newham as part of a joint operation with “Wagtails”. Over the course of the weekend’s activities, a total of 15 businesses were visited, with 7 found to have illicit and non- compliant products.

The majority of the tobacco was non-duty paid and suspected to have been smuggled into the country. A proportion was believed to be counterfeits of popular brands, which are likely to contain harmful substances and may not self-extinguish.

Councillor Carleene Lee-Phakoe, Cabinet Member for Crime and Community Safety said:

“We have serious concerns about the increased numbers of non-compliant vapes, illicit tobacco, and unsafe products on our high streets.

“These products, which are illegal and unregulated, can have a serious detrimental effect on the health of those who use them. I hope operations like this one by our Trading Standards officers will highlight to people the dangers of using illicit products.

“Far from being a victimless crime, illegal tobacco trading provides affordable access for children and young people, makes it harder for people to give up as the product is cheaper, and affects the trade of legitimate retailers.

“It is imperative that Newham Council’s Trading Standards service continue with this disruption work, to ensure that we remove these harmful products from our streets”.

The crackdown was part of Operation CeCe, a national campaign which focusses on joint working between National Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs.

The investigations remain ongoing and the seized products will now be fully assessed as part of the inquiry to determine the exact offences that have been committed.

Anyone who is prosecuted and convicted of being involved in selling or supplying illegal tobacco can face penalties including up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

If you have information about the sale of illegal tobacco in Newham, please report it via Citizens Advice Consumer Advice line on 0808 223 1133 or report on this website in confidence, anonymously.

Alternatively, you can also report information via the London Trading Standards consumer crime tool (https://www.londontradingstandards.org.uk/report-consumer-crime/). You can report information that is associated with people dealing in fake, illicit, unsafe products, or the sale of age-restricted products to children.

Trading standards illicit tobacco dog

Published: 07 Mar 2023