Raids on four shops in Eastbourne and Hampden Park have netted a haul of almost 9,000 illegal cigarettes and more than 10kg of hand rolling tobacco – worth £7,000.
The county council’s Trading Standards team called in BWY Canine dogs Phoebe and Scamp to help search the shops and found the illegal tobacco in four premises.
The products failed to contain the required health warnings and some had been made for the illegal market. Investigations are ongoing and some products will be sent for further examination.
“As well as encouraging people to smoke by providing a cheaper source and avoiding paying taxes on imported tobacco products, those involved in this criminal activity are having a detrimental impact on our local economy,” said Cllr Rupert Simmons, lead member for economy.
“The sale of illegal tobacco is a huge problem in East Sussex, as it is across the rest of the country, but we are doing everything we can to stamp this out and will continue to act on all intelligence we receive.”
Trading Standards is working with the East Sussex Tobacco Partnership and funding from this enabled officers to employ the help of the tobacco detection dogs during the operation on October 23.
East Sussex County Council Trading Standards manager Sandra Thornton added, “The tobacco detection dogs are a great help in the search for illegal products.
“While officers would be able to carry out searches without them, with their help we can search more quickly and the dogs highlight illegal tobacco deliberately concealed in places where they may otherwise not be found.”