Thousands of illegal cigarettes and other tobacco products have been seized by Croydon Council as part of a trading standards operation across London it was revealed today.
Specialist sniffer dogs teams and trading standards officers confiscated the items on Wednesday, from three shops across the borough suspected of selling counterfeit and illegal goods.
The Croydon raids were part of a London-wide, month-long crackdown on illegal tobacco, and officers are already investigating.
Councillor Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “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.”
The highlight of the seizures was 10,000 counterfeit cigarettes claimed from a shop in South Croydon.
A shop in West Croydon was also caught selling 1,400 cigarettes suspected to be counterfeit, along with more than 70 packets of hand-rolling tobacco and a shop in Thornton Heath was found to be selling 20 packets of illegal hand-rolling tobacco.
Sniffer dogs also found suspected cigarillos, menthol dual capsules and oral tobacco, all of which are illegal.
Selling or supplying illegal tobacco can result in a ten-year prison sentence, as well as an unlimited fine, whilst selling mislabelled cigarettes could land retailers up to 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.
If you suspect that tobacco you bought may be on sale illegally, report it to Citizens’ Advice on 03454 040506.