Dogs sniff out £8,000 of illicit cigarettes in raids by Tower Hamlets trading standards officers

Trading standards officers seize £8,000 of illicit tobacco. Picture source: LBTH

Trading standards officers seize £8,000 of illicit tobacco. Picture source: LBTH - Credit: LBTH

Illegal tobacco found hidden in cereal boxes have been seized by Tower Hamlets trading standards officers in raids on 18 premises.

Tracker dogs were brought in to sniff out tobacco at shops and other premises which netted illicit goods worth £8,000.

The contraband was found inside cereal boxes, stuffed in coat pockets and secreted behind display panels at more than half the premises during the two-day operation whic h hauled in 12,360 cigarettes, 2,250g of hand-rolling tobacco and 68 pots of chewing tobacco.

“We won’t tolerate people ignoring the law,” Deputy Mayor Asma Begu said. “We are committed to seizing illegal tobacco and getting it off of our streets.”

The raids were part of Operation Stromboli, to stop the sale of counterfeit, incorrectly-labelled packets and tobacco and alcohol where customs duty has been evaded.

Cigarettes have to be sold in minimum quantities of 20s in plain olive green packaging with health warnings, under new legislation that came in last year.

The council has “zero tolerance” to businesses which make “no significant effort to comply with the law” or deliberately choose to ignore it.

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Hooky cigarettes were “a particular health risk to children” because they were sold at “pocket money prices” to entice youngsters to smoke. Operation Stromboli was sending “a clear message” about selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

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