Counterfeit Cigarettes Cause Problems For All
When it comes to vices in the United Kingdom, a great proportion of the population would state that smoking is their biggest problem. There is an acceptance that many people are addicted to cigarettes and there are many solutions and levels of assistance being offered. Electronic cigarettes are just the latest attempt to help people give up smoking and this product joins nicotine patches and gum as ways that people can try and wean themselves off of cigarettes. There are many different strategies involved with helping people to stop smoking and one of the most common tactics is the actual pricing of cigarettes.
There are many complaints about the cost of cigarettes, especially directed to the Government with many people accusing them of generating income through addiction, but it is easy to see why there is a higher cost associated with cigarettes. The high price of a packet of cigarettes will force some people into giving up and there is an argument that the money raised from the sales of this product should be used to fund the NHS and the impact that the body feels through smokers.
Of course, with the cost of cigarettes being so high, there is a market for a supply of alternative cigarettes and this is an area of continual focus for Trading Standards. Given the demand for affordable cigarettes, there will always be people looking to supply affordable cigarettes, which is why Trading Standards officers are always running investigations into this form of activity.
Sniffer dogs involved with tobacco raid
A raid carried out in North Kent has uncovered close to £75,000 worth of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco and cigarettes. A raid took place across 7 shops in the area with sniffer dogs being utilised in premises in Dartford and in Gravesend. One shop which was raided actually had a purpose built hole in the wall of the storage room in the basement. It was only through the use of the sniffer dog that the haul behind the wall was able to be seized.
Of the seven stores raided, 5 of them had illicit tobacco seized while another store was believed to have cleared out all of its illicit stock before the officers attended at their premises but officers did find the exact same style of storage facility beneath the counter in the store. The total seizure amounted to 7,177 packs of cigarettes and 1,097 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco. The total weight of the seizure amounted to 54.85kg and it is believed that the retail value associated with the product amounted to £74,968.
There will always be a demand for cigarettes
Richard Strawson is the Trading Standards Manager for Kent County Council and he released a statement saying; “We continue to work to drive out this illegal trade because smoking is one of the biggest causes of ill health and illicit tobacco makes a serious issue worse. The controls on safety standards, which apply to legitimate traders, are not carried out. Sniffer dogs are used because they can be vital in these kinds of cases as the tobacco is often hidden behind false walls or in secret drawers.”
The role of the dogs in the search was hugely instrumental and one of the dog handlers, Stuart Phillips, also spoke to local media, saying; “We were delighted to be involved in this operation and are pleased with the results. Large finds like this don’t happen often. We have been involved in several raids of this kind across the country and the discovery of 80,000 cigarettes in one of the shops was the second biggest single haul we have found – and the biggest was in a lorry.”
While the HMRC were kept abreast of the investigation and situation at all times, they were more than happy for the local Trading Standards team to carry out the raid and both bodies are continuing their investigation into this line of work.
There is clearly a lot of work being carried out in investigations by Trading Standards when it comes to illicit and illegal tobacco and cigarette products. The level of demand for affordable tobacco products means that there will always be a supply of these items, but this means that Trading Standards will only increase their level of focus on this form of activity.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.