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More illegal tobacco seized from shops

Some of the seized tobacco
Some of the seized tobacco
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Action against illegal tobacco in central Nelson has resulted in a further seizure in under a week at one shop, and a manufacturing operation being uncovered at another.

An inspection by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Police on July 17th found a further 88 packs behind the counter at one shop, after a raid the previous Thursday netted over 2,200 packs worth £10,000. The brands included JP Gold Leaf, Amber Gold and L&M.

Officers then visited a second shop just outside Nelson town centre, where they found a production line for manufacturing packs of counterfeit rolling tobacco in an upstairs room.

Finished packs were seized which carried Amber Leaf and Virginia Gold branding. The manufacturing facility included two large plastic containers which looked as though they had previously been full of loose leaf tobacco, thousands of cellophane wrappers, unused packets, unused bulk cartons, stick-on seals and authenticity stickers.

Illicit cigarettes were also seized from the owner's vehicle parked outside, along with improperly labelled e-liquids which were being stored behind the counter.

No arrests were made, and investigations are continuing.

County Coun. Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "The sale and manufacture of illegal tobacco helps to fund serious organised crime, and is something we're determined to tackle.

"It also has an impact on people's health, with surveys showing that a higher percentage of child smokers buy illicit tobacco than adult smokers. Availability of cheap illegal tobacco also helps to keep smoking rates high.

"Yesterday's successful raid, and our continued work with the police, shows that however easily people think they can get away with selling and manufacturing these illegal products, they can't, and we are determined to disrupt their activities and bring them to justice."

The operation was the 13th involving the seizure of illegal tobacco in the Pendle area within the last year. Five prosecutions have followed resulting in one offender receiving an 18 month jail sentence, and £1000's in fines and costs, and community penalties, for others.

You can report sellers of illegal tobacco to Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.