A joint operation by the Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and the Lancashire Police has resulted in the seizure of illegal tobacco and vape products from several shops in Rossendale. The operation, which took place on Wednesday, targeted four shops in Bacup, Haslingden, and Rawtenstall, where officers found and confiscated thousands of pounds worth of illicit goods.
The seized products included counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, as well as unregulated and potentially dangerous vape liquids and devices. The products were hidden in various places in the shops, such as under the counter, behind the shelves, and in false compartments. The officers used specialist sniffer dogs to locate the hidden stash.
The investigation and the prosecution
The operation was part of an ongoing crackdown on the illegal tobacco and vape trade in Lancashire, which aims to protect the public health and safety, and to support the legitimate businesses. The operation was also supported by the HM Revenue and Customs, the Public Health England, and the local councils.
The investigation is still ongoing, and the officers are examining the seized products and gathering evidence. The shop owners and staff who were involved in the illegal trade will face prosecution and penalties, which could include fines, confiscation of assets, and imprisonment. The seized products will be destroyed.
The risks and the appeal
The illegal tobacco and vape products pose serious risks to the consumers and the society, as they:
- Contain harmful and unknown substances, such as tar, nicotine, heavy metals, and synthetic cannabinoids, which can cause cancer, respiratory diseases, and other illnesses.
- Undermine the efforts to reduce smoking and vaping, especially among young people, as they are cheaper and more accessible than the legal products, and do not comply with the age restrictions, health warnings, and packaging standards.
- Deprive the government of tax revenue, which could be used for public services and welfare, and fund the criminal activities and gangs, which are often linked to the illegal trade.
The authorities are urging the public to report any suspicious or illegal tobacco and vape products or sellers, and to avoid buying or using them. The public can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133, or the Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, to report any information or complaints. The public can also visit the Keep It Out website to learn more about the illegal tobacco and vape trade and its consequences.
Maria Garcia is an award-winning author who excels in creating engaging cannabis-centric articles that captivate audiences. Her versatile writing style allows her to cover a wide range of topics within the cannabis space, from advocacy and social justice to product reviews and lifestyle features. Maria’s dedication to promoting education and awareness about cannabis shines through in her thoughtfully curated content that resonates with both seasoned enthusiasts and newcomers alike.