Efforts to eradicate the sale of cheap and illegal tobacco continue across the county, with West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards taking firm action against shops found to be supplying them.
In a recent operation, £7,600 worth of cigarettes and tobacco were ordered to be destroyed after the prosecution and conviction of Mr Ali Abdulahi. The illegal tobacco was discovered in ‘Smart Shop’, Crescent Road, Worthing, and follows the seizure of £8,500 worth of illicit tobacco products from four other shops in Worthing and Littlehampton in October last year.
Over 6,000 illegal cigarettes were also discovered hidden in four separate shops in Worthing and Littlehampton last summer. Illegal tobacco is often carefully concealed in secret compartments, requiring specialist detection dogs to find it. Illegal disposable vapes were also discovered and confiscated by officers.
Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Working with partner agencies and specialist detection dog teams we will continue to take robust enforcement action against any shop selling illicit tobacco in West Sussex. We are committed to safeguarding the health of our communities and ensuring that those who flout the law face the consequences.
“Cheap and Illegal tobacco is a serious concern to public health. Counterfeit cigarettes may contain a range of hazardous substances, from weedkiller and metal splinters to dead insects and rat faeces. They have also been found to contain far higher levels of tar and nicotine. High toxic metal concentrations greatly increase the health risk for consumers, and we would therefore discourage the public from buying any seemly bargain-priced tobacco.”
Cllr Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue, said: “Keeping people safe from the consequences of using cheap illicit tobacco and illegal vapes is a top health priority. Shop owners who deal in this trade should expect to be caught, have their stock removed and face criminal charges. Illegal tobacco and vapes harm communities and jeopardises the profitability of honest local businesses that abide by the law.”
Residents are encouraged to report any suspicious activity related to the sale of illegal tobacco and vapes directly to Trading Standards via www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport