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Illegal tobacco goods worth £60,000 seized in Trading Standards swoop

Illegal tobacco goods worth around £60,000 have been seized by St Helens Borough Council's Trading Standards officers in a series of swoops last week.

Trading Standards Tobacco Operation

Supported by Merseyside Police, HM Revenue & Customs and council housing colleagues, Trading Standards executed a search warrant at one St Helens town centre store and linked living accommodation, and also inspected a further four shops across the borough.

With the expert help of two highly trained tobacco sniffer dogs, Billy and Pippa, illegal cigarettes, tobacco and e-cigarettes with a total value of around £60,000 were seized.

Over 100,000 counterfeit cigarettes were removed from sale along with 600 packs of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco and 2,500 potentially dangerous and unregistered e-cigarettes.

Various tactics were used by store owners to hide the products, including elevated hidden compartments and false walls, and scented candles, garlic cloves and TCP-soaked kitchen towels in an attempt to disguise the scent from sniffer dogs.

The seizures follow on from several similarly successful operations conducted earlier this year, thanks in part to intelligence provided by residents.

Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: "Our Trading Standards Team will continue to clamp down on the sale of these damaging and illegal products. We will not hesitate to seize such goods as these successful operations demonstrate, and we have the power to prosecute and enforce permanent closure of any shop caught selling them."

If you believe a shop is selling illegal cigarettes, tobacco or vapes, you can report it at https://keep-it-out.co.uk, via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or by email to tradingstandards@sthelens.gov.uk.