Dangers of illegal cigarettes to be subject of trading standards roadshow

Yoyo the sniffer dog will be at the roadshowsPicture: Norfolk County Council

Yoyo the sniffer dog will be at the roadshowsPicture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

The dangers of children being sold illegal cigarettes and tobacco across Norfolk are to be highlighted in a touring roadshow featuring a sniffer dog who is the bane of unscrupulous traders.

From August 7 Norfolk County Council Trading Standards officers will be visiting Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Thetford and Norwich to help people find out more about illegal cigarettes and tobacco and the hazard they pose.

As part of the roadshow people will also be able to meet Yoyo the tobacco sniffer dog who has played a big part in successful seizures of illegal tobacco made by officers in the past year.

MORE; illegal cigarettes found in raidYoyo took part in a series of raids in Great Yarmouth last September that saw more than 73,000 illegal cigarettes discovered in three shops in one week.

So far a two-year clampdown on rouge traders has seen Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards and Public Health teams seize more than 1.3m illegal cigarettes and 123kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco with 11 traders being successfully prosecuted.

One of the highlights of the campaign saw a million cigarettes seized in raids in King’s Lynn in June during a joint operation with trading standards and the police.

MORE; one million illegal cigarettes foundMargaret Dewsbury, chairman of the Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, said: “Illegal tobacco and cigarettes are being sold at ‘pocket money’ prices in our communities by traders who don’t care that they’re making smoking accessible to our children, and helping them get hooked on it.

“Sales of cheap illegal tobacco can put young people at risk because they are likely to buy from criminals who also sell alcohol and drugs. The sale of illegal tobacco is often linked with other criminal activity, including organised crime gangs who facilitate the misery of human trafficking and slavery.

“We want to raise awareness that illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime, but is a serious threat to our youngest citizens and their future health and wellbeing, and that it harms neighbourhoods, undermines legitimate trade and brings crime into local communities.”

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Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, said: “In the last year alone we’ve carried out numerous enforcement visits to businesses across Norfolk.

“The biggest success so far has been disrupting supply in King’s Lynn through the seizure of one million illegal cigarettes; following a joint operation between Norfolk Police and ourselves.

“We have brought, and will continue to bring, offending traders before the courts. Convictions have resulted in prison sentences, fines and forfeiture of stock and have also led to unscrupulous traders having their alcohol licenses revoked.

“We rely on the public being our eyes and ears to help us disrupt this illicit trade, so I would encourage anyone who has information or any suspicion that illegal tobacco is being hawked around their communities to let us know.”

“People can speak to officers at the roadshow or call Citizens Advice Consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or use their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or call 101 (use 999 in an emergency)”

Also present at the roadshow events will be trainee sniffer dogs Peggy and Maggie and Smokefree Norfolk which will be on hand to provide help to those interested in quitting smoking.

The roadshow locations are:

Great Yarmouth Market Place: Tuesday, August 7 9am-5pm

King’s Lynn Vancouver Quarter shopping centre: Wednesday, August 8 9am-5pm

Thetford Kings Square: Thursday, August 9 9am-5pm

Norwich the Forum: Friday, August 10 8.30am-6pm