Cigarettes crackdown

Councillor Dave Allen
Councillor Dave Allen
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Shop owners who break the law by selling cigarettes to underage customers, or who stock counterfeit tobacco, are being warned to clean up their act or face prosecution.

Rogue traders are being warned that those who break the law will be targeted in a crackdown by Derbyshire County Council.

It has compiled a nine-point action plan, which sets out its intentions to carry out regular spot checks on retailers.

Test purchase operations will also be carried out.

Council trading standards officers already work with police officers to target premises known to be selling counterfeit products or smuggled tobacco on which no duty has been paid, but they are now warning that even more visits will be made.

They said rogue traders have an unfair advantage over legitimate businesses who have to charge more for their products because duty has been paid.

There have been a total of 18 raids on premises so far this year, with officers seizing almost 150,000 cigarettes and 118kg of loose tobacco with a combined street value of almost £44,000.

Some 14 Derbyshire shops, where illegal sales have been reported, are currently under investigation.

Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, Councillor Dave Allen, said: “Illegal traders are exploiting the high price of cigarettes to make an unfair profit for themselves.

“They undermine one of the most effective deterrents against smoking, and that’s the high cost.

“All tobacco products are harmful and young people are particularly vulnerable.

“It should not be the case that children are turned away by legitimate traders only to be able to buy cigarettes down the road at a discount.”

The council has enlisted the help of volunteers aged under 18 to pose as customers to check which shops will serve underage customers without asking questions.

Councillor Allen added: “We’re committed to pursuing these ‘under-the-counter dealers’.

“They are immoral shop owners who threaten the health of children and steal trade from our legitimate businesses.”