Posted on Thursday 8th February 2024
Photos of some of the seized items
Trading Standards officers at Staffordshire County Council have seized illegal vapes, illicit tobacco and banned imported foods, worth almost £40,000.
Officers made the discoveries during raids at two premises in Stafford and two in Stone on Tuesday 30 January. Illegal and oversized vapes were found at each of the four shops, totalling 2,221. Officers, supported by specialist search dogs, also found 3.29 kg of illegal tobacco, 15,420 cigarettes and 169 items of illegal food. The operation was supported by Staffordshire Police, who also seized a sum of cash that was located with the illegal tobacco and vapes.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council, said:
“Our officers continue to tackle the sale of illegal and illicit goods and it’s great to hear about yet another successful operation.
“The illicit tobacco market is closely linked to organised crime and harms local communities and legitimate businesses, so removing it from the market is vital.
“Teams are also seeing a huge increase in the availability of oversized and illegal vapes, many of which are targeted at children. An increasing number of these are now advertising 12000 puff capability, which is ten times the legal limit.
“The team do rely on intelligence from the public about the sales of any non-compliant or illegal products, so anyone with information should contact the service on the confidential hotline.”
Chief Inspector Giles Parsons, of Stafford local policing team, said:
“We take the trading of illegal goods very seriously and will continue to support our colleagues within Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team.
“If you knowingly buy counterfeit goods, you’re helping the offender to break the law. The money you’ve spent could also end up funding organised crime. You could also be putting yourself in real danger as counterfeits do not pass the same tests as genuine items. They can be dangerous to use and in some cases are made using toxic substances.”
Since April 2023, officers have seized a total of 13,171 disposable vapes, almost 90,000 cigarettes and over 20 kg of hand rolling tobacco. The seizures have a retail value of around £245,000.
People can report the sale of illegal or counterfeit products on the Trading Standards confidential helpline on 01785330356.