More than 217,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized in Nottingham in the last two years as part of the city’s commitment to tackling the sale of illegal tobacco.
Nottingham City Trading Standards teamed up with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to launch Operation CeCe in 2020.
In that time, Trading Standards teams have seized 217,520 sticks (10,876 packets) of illegal cigarettes and 7,400kg (148 pouches) of illegal hand-rolling tobacco from shops and private addresses in Nottingham city. This equates to a street value of £55,712.
The total is being announced as part of World No Tobacco Day (31 May), which is run by the World Health Organisation to draw attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.
Nottingham City Council last month published its Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy that identified smoking and tobacco control as a key priority for improving healthy life expectancy in the city.
Cllr Neghat Khan, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion in Nottingham, said: “I’m pleased with the progress our Trading Standards team is making in its ongoing crackdown on illegal tobacco.
“Shops that are identified as selling counterfeit or illegal tobacco are being visited by Trading Standards and their illegal products will be seized. Further enforcement action will also be considered against these sellers.
“Anyone caught selling counterfeit or illicit products could risk significant financial penalties and possible imprisonment. For selling counterfeits the maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000 and up to ten years in prison.”
In November 2021, a large seizure was made at a shop in Nottingham. Using a specialist search dog, the team found a hidden stock of 60,228 cigarettes (3,011 packets). Legal proceedings are now being taken by Trading Standards.
The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. Having removed 13 million illegal cigarettes, 4,300kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 110kg of shisha products from sale in the first year of the operation, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.
Along with the crackdown on illegal tobacco, the City Council is encouraging people to take steps to stop smoking. The Stub it! service is available to anyone aged 16 or over who lives in Nottingham city, offering a 12-week personalised program with trained stop smoking advisors.
Find out more about the Stub it! service here: www.ncgpa.org.uk/support-for-people-who-live-in-nottingham-city.