Over 20,000 illegal cigarette sticks and over 9kg illegal hand rolling tobacco as well as over 100 illegal niche tobacco items were discovered following raids in Castleford and Pontefract.
The activity was conducted by officers from the Trading Standards Illegal Tobacco Team, following up on information provided by members of the public.
The raids were carried out as part of the ‘Keep it Out’ campaign, funded by the five West Yorkshire councils, which aims to reduce supply and demand for illegal tobacco in Wakefield and across West Yorkshire, including stopping dealers who sell to children.
The illegal items, which included suspected counterfeit and non-duty paid products which cannot be legally sold in the UK, were seized during inspection visits at retail outlets in Pontefract and Castleford.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children to smoke by providing a cheap source.
“West Yorkshire Trading Standards is determined to identify and bring to justice those who are involved in this trade. Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in illegal tobacco.”
Coun Ros Lund, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards added: “Trading Standards, along with partners such as HM Revenue and Customs and local authorities including Wakefield Council, have been working to cut the supply of and demand for cheap illegal tobacco”.
”It’s low price and easy availability encourages people to keep smoking, and children and young people are often targeted by unscrupulous traders. This enforcement action is therefore welcomed. “
Anyone who knows where illegal tobacco is being sold is urged to report it anonymously online at www.keep-it-out.co.uk or call the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000.