SNIFFER dogs helped to discover large amounts of illegal tobacco in raids carried out by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service in Pendle on Wednesday of last week.
More than 30 packs of contraband cigarettes were seized from two shops during the operation in which 13 retail premises were visited by Trading Standards, the police, Pendle Council Licensing and two sniffer dogs.
The haul included possible counterfeit and non-dutypaid tobacco products which cannot be legally sold in the UK.
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 traders often conceal in unusual places such as hidden compartments and seemingly empty product boxes.
County Coun. Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We regularly act on intelligence received from the public, and the success of this week’s operation shows that even the smallest piece of intelligence can make all the difference.
“It also demonstrates more and more people are beginning to understand the serious threat illegal tobacco poses to our communities and, just as tellingly, fewer and fewer people are prepared to tolerate it.
“The highly trained tobacco dogs leave no hiding places for those who trade in illegal tobacco, making them a valuable contribution to the armoury of our Trading Standards Service.”
The dogs, named Levi and Ozzie, were provided by Wagtail UK Ltd and funded by Tobacco Free Lancashire, a collaborative partnership including healthcare professionals formed to help protect children and young people from the harms of tobacco.
Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco should call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or the confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.