More than 25,000 illicit cigarettes and 22 kilos of tobacco have been seized in Sheffield – hidden in ‘ingenious’ hidey-holes including cooker tops and the false bottom of a parrot’s cage.
Trading Standards officers and South Yorkshire Police used two trained sniffer dogs to swoop on seven shops across the city – and found illegal cigarettes and tobacco hidden in ‘ingenious hidden cavities’.
They also found 12 kilos of molasses for hooka pipes and 300 ‘blunts’ or rolling cones for smoking tobacco.
The product seized in the operation is currently being forensically examined and arrests are expected to follow.
Sheffield Council cabinet member Coun Jack Scott said: “This has been a tremendously successful operation and highlights our determination to reduce the number of people smoking in the city – and the criminals who profit from this activity.
“Illegal tobacco is routinely sold in Sheffield for as little as half price – £3.50 as opposed to over £7 for legitimate cigarettes.
“Illegal and unsafe tobacco increases teen smoking, harms health in communities, worsens health inequalities and is linked to crime at many levels.
“We are determined to improve health and address health inequalities in the city and reduce tobacco use, especially in children.
“We are actively tackling the illegal sale of tobacco and progress is being made, but we recognise there is still a lot more to do.”
According to the tobacco industry, 25 to 30 per cent of the market is made up of illegally imported cigarettes.
Tobacco smuggling is said to cost the Government more than £3 billion a year in lost revenue.
n Anyone with information about businesses or individuals selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Sheffield’s Trading Standards officers can be contacted on 0114 2736290.