Recent raid prompts warning on illegal tobacco sales

More than 13,000 illegal cigarettes and 1,500 packets of illegal tobacco have been seized over the past 12 months in Cornwall, prompting authorities to issue a warning to the community that illegal trade will not be tolerated. 

The latest warning follows a joint raid between the Council and police in North Country, near Illogan last month which saw another 1,000 pouches of hand rolling tobacco and a large sum of cash seized. 

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Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards said the products were either counterfeit, posing a public health risk as people don’t know what’s inside, or they had not had tax paid on them, robbing the public purse of thousands of pounds in tax. 

Trading Standards has received an increasing number of calls and reports from the public over the last year, and as a result ten search warrants have been executed and seven people prosecuted through the criminal courts.   

Cllr Sue James, Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: “Cornwall Council has been clamping down on this issue and we want to send a clear message to people. If you sell illegal products, chances are you will be caught and you could face serious penalties through the courts. 

“Illegal tobacco trade harms everyone. All tobacco is harmful, but when it is cheap and easy to get hold of, it makes it harder for people to quit and more accessible to children and young people.  

"The loss of tax revenue reduces money available for local schools and health care. 

"The illegal tobacco trade also  has strong links to crime including drug dealing. 

“Our message is clear – selling illegal tobacco is a crime which can carry fines, community orders or prison. The number of reports we are seeing shows more people have had enough and are providing us with information to stop local criminals selling and trading tobacco. Whether you are a shopkeeper or an individual, chances are you will be reported. Our crackdown will continue.”

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco or alcohol can make a report in confidence by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by emailing report-it@cornwall.gov.uk.

Story posted 11th August 2017