Nearly 35,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized by KCC Trading Standards officers in a series of visits to shops in Maidstone as part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC.
Kent Police Community Safety Unit and Maidstone Borough Council’s Community Protection Team supported the initiative across two days of action. Sniffer dogs Yoyo and Scamp, supplied by specialists BWY Canine, assisted in locating hidden supplies
The tobacco seized was a mixture of counterfeit English brands as well as a number of smuggled products.
In addition to 34,880 cigarettes, 7.8kg of hand rolling tobacco and 18.8kg of shisha molasses were seized.
Oliver Jewell, who led the operation for KCC Trading Standards, said: “Illegal tobacco brings crime into your community and should not be tolerated. It undermines local legitimate businesses, funds organised crime and also makes smoking more affordable for young people and those attempting to quit.
“We will continue to work alongside our enforcement partners, taking action against the sale of this counterfeit tobacco for as long as this illegal trade continues, in order to protect the safety and rights of the residents and businesses of Kent.”
Residents who become aware of shops selling illegal tobacco can report them anonymously through 0300 999 6 999 or by visiting www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk