Thursday, April 10, 2014
Four people have been arrested as part of a major crackdown on the sale of illegal tobacco across Norfolk and Suffolk.
More than 50,000 illicit cigarettes and tobacco products were seized in morning raids that targeted shops and homes in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
Dog handling teams discovered thousands of pounds worth of counterfeit and duty-evaded cigarettes stashed in a storage heater, the boot of a car, under stairs and beneath kitchen cabinets.
Officers descended on shops in Yarmouth today, including a convenience store at 13a St Peters Road and The Great International Food Store on King Street.
Spearheaded by Norfolk Trading Standards, the clampdown – codenamed Operation Damask– followed weeks of intelligence gathering in a joint initiative with Norfolk Police and HMRC.
David Collinson, head of Norfolk Trading Standards said: “Today’s action means that we’ve been able to prevent Norfolk’s residents being exploited.
“Cheap tobacco may seem to be a bargain and a way of saving money if you’re on a stretched budget. And when they are sold at half the price of legal tobacco, they become even more accessible to our children – with serious health consequences for them.
“But, if tobacco isn’t dangerous enough already - these products can be fake and completely unregulated.
“They can be full of damaging toxins from additives and they can be manufactured in unsafe, unhygienic conditions.
“Taking these products out of circulation is a positive step for consumers.
“It will also help establish a more level playing field for those honest retailers whose businesses can be undermined when illicit tobacco is being sold by other traders in their streets.”
• Have you been affected by illicit tobacco? Contact reporter Ben Woods on firstname.lastname@example.org