DCSIMG

Tip-off leads police to illegal tobacco haul

Some of the rolling tobacco seized in the raid in St Annes. Below: Coun Janice Hanson.

Some of the rolling tobacco seized in the raid in St Annes. Below: Coun Janice Hanson.

This is the haul of almost 200 packs of illegal tobacco seized after police raided a home in St Annes.

Officers swooped after receiving a tip-off that non-duty paid tobacco was being sold from the premises in Heyhouses Lane.

Both Trading Standards and police officers were involved in the raid.

In total 187 packs of tobacco were discovered. The 50g packs of hand rolling tobacco featured foreign health warnings and officers suspect they may be fake.

It has now been handed to Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service for further investigation.

The brands were Amber leaf and Original Virginia Number 1 – both hand rolling tobacco.

County Coun Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection at Lancashire County Council, said: “This seizure shows the importance of receiving intelligence from the public.

“Trading Standards and the police work together to combat the supply of illicit tobacco and will always take action on any information received.

“Far from being a victimless crime the trade in illicit tobacco has serious consequences for health, discouraging smokers from quitting and making it more accessible to children. It also has links to low level and large scale organised crime.”

Julie Waddington, lead officer for Lancashire County Council Trading Standards, said: “There is a problem with illicit tobacco being available throughout Lancashire, particularly in districts in the east, and in Preston.

“It’s something we’re working hard to tackle and, last year, made seizures from over 60 retail premises.

“While only a handful of incidences have been reported in the Fylde area in the last year, as this raid shows we will work with the police to take action on any information received and we’d encourage people to report any illegal activity they’re aware of to Crimestoppers.”

Problem ‘is reducing’

Official figures from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies claims campaigns to raise awareness of illegal tobacco are working.

They show in Lancashire the number of smokers who buy illegal tobacco has fallen from 23 per cent in 2009 to 15 per cent in 2011.

Anyone with any information regarding the supply of ‘duty free’ tobacco should call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.

For consumer advice ring the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506.

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