News item

Tobacco haul is largest of its kind in Oldham

Officers from Oldham Council’s Trading Standards Team have successfully uncovered the biggest single haul of illegal and counterfeit tobacco in the borough following a raid on a local business. 
The team, supported by the North West Trading Standards Illicit Tobacco Team paid a visit to a shop along Yorkshire Street, in Oldham, on Tuesday, February 11, following intelligence that counterfeit goods may have been inside. 
A specialist tobacco sniffer dog uncovered 35,500 cigarettes and 14.5 kilos of hand rolling tobacco concealed in various locations in the building. 
The street value of this haul is estimated to be approximately £10,000. 
Last year alone Oldham Trading Standards Officers seized nearly 24,000 illegal cigarettes and 138 kilos of hand rolled tobacco which has been subsequently destroyed. 
An investigation is currently being carried out following the discovery and the trading standards team will be questioning the owners of the business. 
Councillor Jean Stretton, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives and Neighbourhoods, said: “This is the largest ever single seizure of its kind from a single business in Oldham. 
“The trading standards team have been very busy recently and their hard work has paid off. Oldham Council is determined to identify and bring to justice those who are involved in this extremely worrying trade. 
“Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source. 
“The detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes even if hidden in the most unlikely places. Offenders need to know that they will face the consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products.” 
Regional analysis indicates that one in 11 cigarettes smoked are either smuggled or counterfeit, damaging legitimate retailers business and contributing to other criminal activity. 
Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health for Oldham said: “Illegal and counterfeit tobacco has serious health and criminal implications. 
“It is the low price and easy availability that encourages people to keep smoking, and children and young people are often targeted by unscrupulous traders. 
“Premises selling counterfeit tobacco are putting lives at risk, all for a bit of extra money. 
“Earlier this month Oldham Council signed the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control which commits local authorities to reduce smoking prevalence and health inequalities and to raise the profile of the harm caused by smoking to our communities. 
“We will continue to work with our partners and local communities to address the causes and impacts of tobacco use.” 
Anyone with information regarding the sale of illegal tobacco can pass information confidentially to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506 or the Trading Standards North West Illicit Tobacco Team on 01925 442 466. 
For media queries, please call Andrew Rudkin, Oldham Council’s Marketing and Communications Team, on 0161 770 5034, or email: 

DATE: 13 February 2014