03:57PM, Tuesday 30 November 2021
Trading Standards officers discovered 10 packets of cigarettes suspected of being counterfeit during an inspection in Maidenhead.
The team were assisted by sniffer dog Cooper - who is able to detect tobacco located in hidden places.
The visits were carried out last week at retailers in Maidenhead as part of Operation Cece which is National Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs initiative to tackle the illegal tobacco trade.
The team discovered 10 packets of cigarettes and seven pouches of rolling tobacco suspected of being counterfeit, which were not compliant with current labelling regulations. Officers also seized 40 packets of chewing tobacco which failed to comply with labelling regulations.
The seized items will undergo expert examination to establish their counterfeit status. Trading Standards is continuing enquiries with the businesses concerned, with a view to taking enforcement action and, if possible, identifying their suppliers. Enforcement options range from issuing formal warnings through to prosecution.
Councillor David Cannon, cabinet member for public protection, said: “This operation was about protecting the local community from harm. The sale of cheap, illegal tobacco brings criminals into our neighbourhoods and it creates an unfair trading environment for our law-abiding businesses.
“Tell-tale signs that tobacco products are counterfeit include failing to include the required warnings showing the health risks associated with smoking, such as packets with no picture warnings, and the low cost compared to normal cigarettes
“Having an asset like sniffer dog Cooper is a valuable resource enabling us to crack down on their sale. It is one we will continue to use going forward to give us the best possible chance of seizing and, ultimately, preventing these items from reaching consumers.”
Anyone concerned about the sale of counterfeit tobacco products should report this this to Trading Standards at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
You can also report a business to the HMRC fraud hotline if they’re selling tobacco or alcohol without paying the full UK Excise Duty. Call 0800 788 887.