West Sussex Trading Standards officers found more than 1500 illegal cigarettes and 130 pouches of loose tobacco in a pre-Christmas raid in Worthing. Some of the cigarettes were of a type linked to a house fire in Lincolnshire, in which one person died.
In earlier raids in Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Worthing more than 600 packets of illicit cigarettes were found along with a number of packets of loose rolling tobacco.
Two shops were raided in the latest crackdown. Officers used a dog trained to sniff out the illegal tobacco. The latest operation was praised by Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member who oversees Trading Standards.
He said: “We want to warn anyone involved in the trade of illegal tobacco that Trading Standards will take action against them, including legal action to revoke their alcohol licences where appropriate.”
Some Jin Ling branded cigarettes were found in the latest raid. The sale of these cigarettes is forbidden in the UK as they do not meet European Safety Standards.
Cigarettes of this type were connected to a house fire in Spalding last year, in which one person died. All legal cigarettes sold in the UK self-extinguish if left burning, reducing the fire risk.
The Jin Ling cigarettes seized in the raids in October were tested and found not to meet these legal requirements.
In a recent prosecution by West Sussex Trading Standards involving the sale of illegal cigarettes, the owners of a shop in Montague Street, Worthing were convicted and ordered to pay more than £2500 in fines and legal costs.
Lionel continued: “Residents should not be duped by the apparent bargain of illicit tobacco. I also hope these actions send a clear message to businesses that selling illicit and unsafe tobacco won’t be tolerated.”
Anyone with any concerns about shops selling illicit tobacco should report the matter to WSCC Trading Standards by phoning Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506 or visit their website.