FOUR stores were found to be selling illegal cigarettes.
West Sussex County Council Trading Standards says it will take action against shops offering illegal tobacco in the county.
The alert follows a series of visits to eight shops in West Sussex where illegal cigarettes were found in four shops in Worthing and Bognor.
During the planned operation, Trade Inspectors and HMRC Enforcement Officers were accompanied by three specialized tobacco-sniffing dogs and their handler.
More than 5,000 illegal cigarettes were seized from the four stores, and officers also removed illegal disposable vaporizers from one of the stores.
The cigarettes had all been hidden in hidden parts of the four shops and clearly placed in a way that they would not have been found without the specialized cocker spaniel sniffer dogs, West Sussex County Council said.
Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “All forms of tobacco products are harmful, whether purchased from a legal or illegal source, but the illicit trade undermines efforts made to reduce smoking and makes it more difficult Smokers find it easier to quit, non-smokers find it easier to start, and ex-smokers find it easier to relapse.
“The availability and typically lower price of illicit tobacco also encourages young people to take up smoking.
“Working with partner agencies and specialist detection dog teams, we will continue to take strict enforcement action against all shops selling illegal tobacco in West Sussex.
“In addition to confiscation of found inventory, shopkeepers face criminal prosecution and, if they sell alcohol, the presence of illegal tobacco may be grounds for suspension or revocation of their liquor license.”
The program was part of Operation CeCe – a joint initiative by National Trading Standards and HMRC to combat the illicit tobacco trade.
Duncan Crow, Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue, said: “We are committed to protecting people in West Sussex from buying counterfeit items or products illegally imported into this country.
“Together with our partner agencies, we will continue to crack down on those who continue to sell illegal tobacco products.
“I hope the results of this joint operation send a strong signal that shopkeepers dealing in illegal tobacco should expect to be caught, have their stocks removed and face criminal charges and possible investigations by HMRC, if customs has been bypassed.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20282286.four-shops-found-selling-illicit-cigarettes-worthing-bognor/?ref=rss Found four shops in Worthing and Bognor selling illegal cigarettes