TRADING standards seized more than £4,000 worth of illegal tobacco in a raid on shops around the town.
Police joined officers from Trading Standards on Thursday in a joint operation to target two shops in Manchester Road following intelligence that they were supplying illegal tobacco.
Illegal tobacco refers to goods that have been smuggled, bootlegged, or counterfeited and any goods which have been manufactured overseas and smuggled into the UK, such as Jin Ling, Raquel, Palace, Manchester and Richman.
Although no illegal tobacco was found in the first shop, a large quantity was found in a van parked on double-yellow lines outside the second shop.
In total 1,194 packs were seized, amounting to around £4,776 in potential sales and an amount expected to supply an individual shop.
Goods included 11 packs of 200 L&M Link Mint Stix cigarettes, 27 packs of 200 President cigarettes and 64 packs of 20 Jin Ling cigarettes.
The raid marked the start of the latest campaign from Smokefree South West launched today to crack down on local illegal tobacco sales in a multi-agency partnership with HMRC, Trading Standards, the police, Crimestoppers and Swindon Council.
Cheri Fayers, Community Safety Manager with Swindon Council, said: “Illegal tobacco is not just an issue in Swindon but it is an issue. The shops where they carried out the raids are on the main route to school for some children, who can just pop in and buy the illegal tobacco with the change in their pockets.
“We can see the fact that they did not find any illegal tobacco in the first shop as a positive because it shows that our work to crack down on the issue is working.”
The latest research shows that more than one in 10 smokers in the town uses illegal tobacco, which is known to be a key route to young people taking up smoking and bringing criminals into communities.
Kate Knight, from Smokefree South West, said: “We’re working with a number of organisations to raise awareness of the sale of illegal tobacco in the town. All tobacco is harmful, but illegal tobacco poses an additional threat to our children because it is sold at pocket money prices by unscrupulous traders who don’t worry about asking someone for their ID.”
Surveys have shown that over the years attitudes towards the sale of illegal tobacco have become more negative, with the number of people in Swindon uncomfortable with illegal tobacco in their community increasing from 33 per cent in 2010 to 63 per cent in 2013.
The sale of illegal tobacco is a criminal offence. Anyone wishing to report the selling of it can report it anonymously online to Trading Standards at stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.