Newham Trading Standards seize over £70,000 in illegal tobacco and vapes as part of a national crack down

Sniffer dog - trading standards

Newham Trading Standards have successfully removed over £70,000 worth of illicit goods from circulation during a joint operation which took place last month.

Part of a national initiative, called Operation CeCe, officers seized 60,000 cigarettes, 100kg of shisha, 350g of hand-rolling tobacco, 5.5kg of chewing tobacco, 175 oversized vapes, and various other non-compliant or illegal products during the 15 and 16 June.

This significant haul was uncovered through a coordinated effort with officers inspecting retail premises across Newham with businesses identified based on direct intelligence and partnership collaboration.

The continuous use of intelligence has resulted in almost £85,000 worth of illicit, non-compliant, and counterfeit goods seized. Over the weekend alone, 15 businesses were visited, with nine found to be selling illegal products.

During the operation, officers discovered five concealed storage areas filled with illegal goods, suggesting the involvement of organised crime gangs working within the borough. Most of the seized tobacco was non-duty paid and potentially smuggled into the country, with some suspected to be counterfeit versions of popular brands. These counterfeit products pose significant risks, as they often contain harmful substances and may not self-extinguish, increasing fire hazards.

Operation CeCe promotes collaboration between National Trading Standards and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The ongoing investigations will include a thorough review of the seized products to determine specific offences. Those prosecuted and convicted for involvement in the sale or supply of illegal tobacco face severe penalties, including up to ten years in prison and unlimited fines.

The Operation was supported by Newham Public Health, helping to protect the health of Newham residents, and Wagtail UK Ltd (sniffer dog company).

Newham Council urges residents with information about the sale of illegal tobacco to report it via the Citizens Advice Consumer Advice line at 0808 223 1133, or anonymously through the London Trading Standards website. 

Reports related to fake, illicit, unsafe products, or the sale of age-restricted products to minors can also be made through the London Trading Standards consumer crime tool at:

Published: 02 Jul 2024