‘Dodgy’ cigarettes sold over the counter seized by Tower Hamlets trading standards officers
PUBLISHED: 10:39 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:39 16 January 2018
Illicit cigarettes smuggled into Britain have been sold over the counter at six out of 10 convenience stores which were raided by Tower Hamlets Council trading standards officers.
Now the rogue traders in London’s East End face prosecution in a crackdown by the local authority for selling contraband tobacco, it warned today.
Dogs are now being used to sniff out contraband hidden out od sight by the rogue traders.
Trading Standards officers carrying out test purchases to gather evidence against shops ignoring the law on tobacco sales found 60 per cent of the stores visited were selling cigarettes that were illegal under the 2016 Tobacco and Related Products Regulations.
“Cigarettes are sold illicitly are not properly inspected and don’t have appropriate health warnings,” a town hall spokesman said. “This undermines the council’s efforts to increase public awareness of smoking health risks.”
Packs of cigarettes sold over the counter by the unsuspecting shopkeepers believed to have been illegally smuggled into the country were being sold at £6 or £7, around 35 per cent cheaper than legitimate products.
The enforcement operation is now continuing into the New Year with follow-up inspections being carried out using specialist sniffer dogs.
Further quantities of illicit tobacco now having been seized, the authority reports.
Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “Dodgy cigarettes smuggled into the country illegally put legitimate businesses at a disadvantage, take money out of the economy and pose a health risk.
“Retailers who ignore the law will be identified and held to account.”
Retailers found to have breached the law could face prosecution, it warned. The council will take “all necessary action” against rogue traders where its enforcement teams find evidence of violating the law.
The council’s Trading Standards officers is operating a ‘hotline’ to report the sale of counterfeit goods on 020-7364 5008.
Tower Hamlets is currently running a New Year ‘stop smoking’ campaign with weekday advice sessions at various locations to help people kick the habit.