Croydon Council trading standards officers have confiscated thousands of cigarettes and other tobacco products from three shops suspected of selling counterfeit and illegal goods.
Using specialist sniffer dog teams, on Wednesday trading standards officers seized non-duty paid imported products and suspected counterfeit tobacco from three shops across the borough.
The seizures included 10,000 counterfeit cigarettes from a shop in South Croydon, a shop in West Croydon selling 1,400 suspected counterfeit cigarettes and more than 70 packets of hand-rolling tobacco, and a shop in Thornton Heath selling around 20 packets of hand-rolling tobacco.
Sniffer dogs also found suspected counterfeit Benson & Hedges cigarettes and fake Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco, cigarillos and menthol dual capsules that became illegal earlier this year. Officers also confiscated banned oral tobacco, which is different to chewing tobacco.
The Croydon operation was held as part of a month-long clampdown on illegal tobacco sales by trading standards teams across London, and officers have now begun to investigate the seizures.
Anyone convicted of being involved in selling or supplying illegal tobacco can face 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Selling mislabelled cigarettes can also land retailers with a fine and potentially between three months and two years in prison.
The Croydon team carried out inspections on two more shops in Thornton Heath and New Addington, but these passed the sniffer dog checks.
Customers can spot illegal cigarettes because they may not include the correct health warnings or are written in foreign languages. Illegal tobacco is often kept away from the shop counter, and it is also sold via social media or in private houses.
“Illegal tobacco products don’t just put your health at even greater risk; their cheaper prices put children at greater risk of becoming regular smokers and harm our local economy by undercutting law-abiding retailers.
“This is why these operations are important, and our excellent trading standards team will continue to work to protect local people from this illegal trade”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
If you suspect that tobacco you bought may be on sale illegally, report it to Citizens’ Advice on 03454 040506.