Shop owners across the city are being warned to steer clear of illegal cigarettes and tobacco by the council’s Trading Standards team.

Officers have targeted a number of businesses where illicit tobacco products were believed to be on sale.

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

A specially trained tobacco detection dog was used to detect the illegal products and the day long operation yielded around 14,500 counterfeit and/or non UK duty paid cigarettes.

Other items seized included 800g of non UK duty paid herbal Shisha, 39 Hemp wraps with incorrect warnings, 55 packets of incorrectly labelled tobacco Blunts and 600g of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco.

The total retail value of the haul came to around £8,000 with the value of duty evaded tax calculated at almost £5,000.

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

Trading Standards officers were joined by representatives from West Midlands Police during the operation.

Ross Cook, Director for City Environment at City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “Our Trading Standards officers carry out operations such as this to help protect the public from dangerous products, as well as to protect our legitimate businesses. 

“Counterfeit cigarettes pose even greater health risks than legitimate ones as they often contain far more nicotine. In addition, fake products have been found to contain high levels of lead and arsenic.

“Importantly, legal cigarettes are manufactured to meet safety requirements, which reduce the chance that they could set fire to sofas, beds and other combustible materials. Illegal cigarettes are not self extinguishable and have been attributed to a number of house fires and deaths.”

Once investigations have been completed, the illegal cigarettes and tobacco will be handed over to a recycling scheme to be dealt with in an environmentally friendly way.

Officers from our Trading Standards team have issued some warning signs to look out for when buying cigarettes or tobacco.

The tell tale signs of illegal tobacco include unusual taste, cheap price, unusual packaging, spelling mistakes or incorrect logos. They 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 to usual.

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