Illegal cigarettes, vapes, tobacco and alcohol have been seized from businesses following investigations by City of Wolverhampton Council.

Acting on complaints, the council’s Trading Standards team targeted a number of licenced and non licenced premises across the city where the goods were believed to be on sale.

Specially trained detection dog Bran helped sniff out the illegal tobacco products which included 1,104 illicit cigarettes, 121 illicit vapes and a quantity of hand rolling tobacco with foreign labelling. In addition, 29 packets of illicit medication with foreign labelling were also seized.

At a city premises which did not have a licence to sell alcohol, 18 cans of foreign beer, 33 bottles of foreign labelled wine and 72 litres of a liquid believed to be alcohol were found. No duty was paid on these items.

If genuine, the retail value of the tobacco/alcohol products seized would be an estimated £3,500 and duty evaded would come to more than £1,000 approximately.

Action is set to be taken against the owners of premises where the material was seized while further investigations will be carried out to identify their suppliers.

The raids were carried out under Operation CeCe, which is a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle the illegal tobacco trade.

Also in attendance were Councillor Zee Russell and Councillor Jane Francis, who assisted in the inspections.

Councillor Craig Collingswood, cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “We carry out these operations to help protect both the public from dangerous products and our legitimate businesses. 

“Illegal cigarettes are unregulated and are even greater risks to health than regulated ones, as they contain higher levels of nicotine, tar and heavy metals. Their cheaper prices make these more attractive to young people and have also been attributed to a number of house fires and deaths.

“I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this successful partnership operation, including our Trading Standards team, West Midlands Police, immigration officials and the trained nose of tobacco detection dog Bran from B.W.Y Canine.”

Lord Michael Bichard, Chair, National Trading Standards, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. 

“Having removed 27 million illegal cigarettes, 7,500kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.”

Officers from our Trading Standards team highlight the following warning signs to look out for when buying cigarettes or tobacco: an unusual taste, cheap price, unusual packaging, spelling mistakes or incorrect logos. 

Packets may also have health warnings that may not be printed in English, might not display a picture, might not be printed on a white background and may have different sized lettering.

Anyone who thinks they may have been sold illegal goods or suspect someone is selling them, email or visit Citizens Advice.