West Yorkshire wide raids on illegal tobacco amid reports it was being supplied to children

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service'David Lodge, head of WYTS.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service'David Lodge, head of WYTS.

Trading Standards officers have been carrying out raids across West Yorkshire amid reports that traders have been selling illegal tobacco and supplying to under age children.

Illegal products were seized during raids in Leeds, Kirklees, Wakefield, Bradford and Calderdale, with many of the seized items found hidden in concealments such as voids in walls and under counter tops.

Sniffer dogs are routinely used to uncover illicit tobacco.

In the last month alone, West Yorkshire Trading Standards has seized almost 100,000 cigarettes and 37kg of hand rolling tobacco from retailers, which cannot be sold legally in the UK.

The value of the tobacco products, if genuine, would have been worth more than £40,000.

Public health services across West Yorkshire have joined forces to fund the Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, which has seen over 50 such inspections since April this year.

Many of these are multi-agency visits, with officers from West Yorkshire Police, HMRC, UK Border Agency being involved.

A number of legal proceedings are ongoing in relation to seizures made.

The seizures included counterfeit, non-duty paid and incorrectly labelled cigarettes and tobacco.

The raids were conducted as a result of information provided by the public.

This brings the total illegal tobacco removed from West Yorkshire’s streets by West Yorkshire Trading Standards, since the start of the project to almost 700,000 cigarettes and 300kg of hand rolling tobacco since April 2014.

Councillor Andrew Pinnock of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee said: “Although a lot has been achieved, illegal tobacco is still a problem. While all smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at pocket money prices, making it easy for children to start. It also encourages other crimes in our communities.”

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “We are committed to this fight against cheap and illicit tobacco. I would like to thank the public for reporting these traders and would encourage the public to continue reporting this type of activity. You can report this to West Yorkshire Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”