Blyth shop closed down after £15,000 of illegal tobacco, cigarettes, and vapes seized
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Northumberland County Council’s trading standards team had received intelligence that the shop was supplying the black-market items and visited the premises with Northumbria Police officers.
More than 24,000 illegal cigarettes and 400 pouches of tobacco with a street value of £15,500 were found packed in suitcases at the back of the premises, as well as the vape products.
The shop has now been closed down and a criminal investigation is ongoing.
Northumberland County Council cabinet member Gordon Stewart said: "With the help of the public within our neighbourhoods and the efforts of our trading standards team, our aim is to stop the supply of illicit tobacco across all communities in Northumberland and ensure that those responsible are brought to account.
“The sale of cheap tobacco discourages people from quitting smoking and encourages young people to start smoking from an early age.
“Buying cheap tobacco fuels the pockets of organised criminal gangs who are behind it, brings criminal activity into our communities, and allows vulnerable people to be preyed upon.”
This is the second targeted inspection to take place in Blyth this year, with the earlier operation also leading to a shop being closed down and more illegal products being seized.
Vapes, tobacco, and 8,000 black-market cigarettes were taken on that occasion, with a criminal investigation into that business also underway.
The items were discovered hidden at the premises of a different business, run by a vulnerable shop owner who was not connected to the alleged offence.
The county council is now calling for anyone with information about the supply of illicit tobacco to report it to them in confidence, or anonymously through anti-illegal tobacco campaign Keep It Out.
Cllr Stewart added: “It is important that people come forward with any information they have about the supply of illicit tobacco in Northumberland.
“Assurances are made that all information provided is treated as confidential and can even be supplied to us anonymously through ‘Keep It Out’ reporting channels.”
Illegal tobacco trading can be reported at keepitout.co.uk or by email to [email protected].