Business in Calderdale have been targeted in a huge operation by trading standards to stamp out the supply of illegal tobacco products.
Operation Kanni was a multiagency operation with Trading Standards officers, West Yorkshire Police from Bradford West, Bradford Council Licencing, British Gas Revenue Protection and Wagtail UK, specialist tobacco detection dogs.
The operation was aimed at targeting businesses based in Bradford and Calderdale that are supplying cheap and illicit tobacco products in order to crack down on the supply in West Yorkshire.
Ten shops were visited as part of this operation where more than 24,000 illegal cigarettes and 12kg of hand rolling tobacco was seized.
The tobacco products were found hidden in various locations in the shops including inside a microwave, concealed in tubs and suitcases and even inside the housing of a domestic fridge.
The illicit tobacco is suspected to be a combination of counterfeit items and non-duty paid. The street value of the apprehended tobacco was almost £15,000.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said, “The illegal sale of tobacco in communities enables and encourages young children to buy it cheaply. It is really great that so many partners are working to tackle traders that break the law. I would like to thank members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities. I would encourage the public to continue reporting this type of activity to the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000.”
The sale of illicit tobacco is often linked to other criminality and officers are finding that these businesses are also abstracting electricity.
A multi-agency approach is used to try and uncover as much criminality as possible to try and discourage such trading.
British Gas Revenue Protection also attended these premises and found issues with four shops in Bradford.
The inspections were part of The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme that is funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire.
To date the programme has taken more than 5 million illegal cigarettes and over 1 tonne of illegal hand rolling tobacco off the streets. With more inspections planned in West Yorkshire over the coming weeks these figures are likely to increase.
Illegal cigarettes and tobacco are usually sold at a fraction of the price in a range of locations such as pubs, clubs, shops, private houses and even by street hawkers.
Councillor Sue Duffy, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards 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.”