Sniffer dogs helped to discover large amounts of illegal tobacco in raids carried out by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service in Burnley, Nelson and Colne in the last fortnight.
More than 1,200 packs of suspected contraband cigarettes, tobacco, and tobacco blunts were seized after 35 retail premises were visited by Trading Standards, the police, District Licensing and two sniffer dogs.
The haul included possible counterfeit and non-duty-paid, incorrectly labelled, 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. Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection, said: “We regularly act on intelligence received from the public, and the success of this operation shows that even the smallest piece of intelligence can make all the difference.
“It also demonstrates that more and more people are beginning to understand the serious threat that illegal tobacco poses to our communities and, just as tellingly, that fewer and fewer people are prepared to tolerate it.”
In the last six months, Lancashire Trading Standards have prosecuted 17 cases involving the sale of illicit tobacco with 20 investigations currently ongoing.
Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco should call the confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111 or report it via the Trading Standards Scambuster Stan Facebook page – search for Stanley Dards.