Crackdown on illegal tobacco sales as specialist operation under way

Aberdeen City Council has employed specialist tobacco sniffer dogs to ensure that shops are complying with tobacco laws.

Crackdown on illegal tobacco sales in Aberdeen as specialist operation under way iStock

A search for illegal tobacco sales in Aberdeen is under way this week as part of a UK-wide operation.

Aberdeen City Council’s trading standards officers have employed specialist tobacco sniffer dogs to ensure that shops are complying with tobacco laws.

Illegal tobacco products are associated with organised criminals who make their money off counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco to fund other illegal activities, according to Aberdeen City Council.

The council’s trading standards manager, Graeme Paton, said that this campaign aims to “highlight the issue to those who might be tempted to buy ‘cheap fags’, point out who they are funding when they buy this tobacco, and the dangers associated with it”.

The campaign is being undertaken as part of the UK-wide initiative, Operation CeCe, launched in January 2021 by National Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Illegal tobacco products worth over £7m have been seized via the operation nationally so far, including over 13 million illegal cigarettes, 4300 kg of rolling tobacco, and 109.5 kgs of shisha products.

Wendy Martin, director of National Trading Standards, said: “The illegal tobacco trade harms children, wider communities and businesses and props up organised crime.”

“We look forward to continuing to play our part in preventing illegal tobacco from damaging people’s health, strengthening efforts to reduce the number of people who smoke and stopping many legitimate, tax paying businesses from being undersold.”

Mr Paton also urged the public to abstain from purchasing illegal tobacco, and to report businesses carrying out these sales to the Council in confidence, in order to “keep the pressure up” on those selling illegal tobacco.

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