28.09.23 – Crackdown on Illegal Tobacco, County’s Registration Service Survey
Written by Hitmix Local News on 27 September 2023
1,256 packs of illegal cigarettes and vapes seized as city crackdown continues
Nine Stoke-on-Trent traders are under investigation as trading standards team continue to crackdown on the supply of illegal goods.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has successfully seized 544 packs of illegal cigarettes, 3.6kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco, and 712 illegal vapes from nine premises across the city in raids last Thursday (21 September).
The operation was supported by Staffordshire Police, and a Tobacco Detection Team with a sniffer dog supplied by Wagtails UK. Officers found a concealment of illegal tobacco in the wall at one of the premises, amounting to a genuine retail value of £9,000.
Illegal vapes with a retail value of £9,250 were also found at eight premises. All of the vapes were above the legal tank size of 2ml which equates to 600 puffs, and some of the vapes were concealed in a sliding table which was designed to avoid detection by officers.
This takes the total amount of illegal tobacco seized by the team since April to £30,000 worth of illegal cigarettes and tobacco products and almost £40,000 of illegal vapes.
The action was part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to disrupt the supply of illegal tobacco products.
The availability of cheap illegal tobacco makes it harder for smokers to quit and encourages young people to smoke or vape. It also harms legitimate businesses in the city who trade honestly.
Councillor Amjid Wazir, cabinet member for the environment and enforcement, said:
“We’re cracking down on illegal tobacco and vapes in the city and are committed to keeping our residents safe by ensuring that consumers have access only to products.
“Illegal tobacco sales in the UK are funded by Organised Crime Gangs who see it as a low risk means of making large amounts of money, and the money is then used to fund other forms of criminality.
“This operation serves as a strong message to those engaging in illegal trade activities in which we are committed to upholding the rule of regulation and protecting the best interests of our community.”
If any residents or businesses have concerns over the supply or sale of illegal tobacco or vapes they can report to the trading standards team on 0808 223 1133, visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call our Trading Standards hotline on 01782 238884.
In addition, residents can download the free NHS Quit Smoking app or can access a range of support and advice that is available locally. Support is also available for tobacco users who are planning on using e-cigarettes to help to quit. For more information go to www.stoke.gov.uk/smokefree or contact the quit smoking service directly on 0808 169 1869.
People who use the county’s registration services are getting the chance to help improve their experiences of the service.
Staffordshire County Council’s Registration Service is responsible for registering births and deaths in the county and where notice of marriages and civil partnerships are given.
The service has five full-time offices and four satellite offices across the county. Full-time offices are primarily open Monday to Friday during main office opening hours from 9am to 5pm but the service is keen to explore alternative times and locations.
Making better use of IT and digital technology is also being explored and any ideas or Feedback from the survey will be used to help shape the plans.
Cllr Ian Parry, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Staffordshire County Council said: “Our registration services provide a number of vital services and it’s important that they are fit for purpose and can be easily accessed by people.
“We know that people’s working patterns and habits have changed over the years, so it’s important we ask the people using the service what they need. For example, we know that some customers want weekend availability to fit around their own work lives, same with later evenings. If this is the case, we will try and facilitate that to modernise our offering and make it more customer friendly.
“It’s only a short survey and all feedback will be used to ensure the service provided is fit for the future. I’d urge people to help us get it right by completing the survey.”
People can complete the survey at Registrars Service Consultation | Let’s Talk Staffordshire. People have until 31 October to have their say.