Trading standards seize 35,000 cigarettes in a week

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A massive crackdown on the “vile” trade in illicit tobacco has taken more than 35,000 cigarettes from the borough’s streets over the past week.

Trading standards chiefs made the seizures during a series of raids across Wigan.

Officials used sniffer dogs to trace the haul, which was spread over a number of locations and was hidden in secret compartments.

In total, 35,000 cigs and 50kg of illicit tobacco were captured in raids on two stores in Higher Ince and a private address in Whelley.

The seized products are now being examined while investigations continue.

No one has been arrested.

Wigan Council’s trading standards boss ​Julie

Middlehurst branded the illicit ciggie trade “vile”, saying unscrupulous dealers were by-passing regulations to sell them to children.

She added: “We are grateful to members of the public who gave us the information which enabled us to make these discoveries.

​“We rely on this intelligence to help us stop illegal tobacco from being available on our streets.

​“The illegal tobacco trade is a vile trade which makes it easier for children to access cigarettes smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and is unfair on law abiding local businesses.”

​The team is encouraging any members of the public with information about the sale of illegal tobacco to contact them in confidence on 01942 827476 or ts@wigan.gov.uk

It’s not the first time trading standards have made such a substantial haul.

Last year, thousands of pounds worth of illegal cigarettes were seized following a sniffer dog raid at a town centre shop.

Wigan Council’s Trading Standards team executed a warrant on the premises on Leigh Road in Leigh which saw an illegal stash of 4,000 cigarettes and 1.7kg of tobacco being seized.

A warrant has also been executed at an address at Irvine Street, Leigh in relation to the same raid.

A trained sniffer dog was used to find the tobacco which was hidden in a purpose built concealed cupboard under the counter in the shop. Some of the tobacco is suspected to be counterfeit and is now being examined.