Woodbury and Woodbury Salterton sites visited in operation to curb illegal tobacco sales
PUBLISHED: 13:46 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 26 September 2018
Sites in Woodbury and Woodbury Salterton were among 33 visited across Devon and Somerset in an operation to 'disrupt' the sale and supply of illegal tobacco.
Around 24 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with support from Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards uncovered more than 8,000 cigarettes and four kilos of hand-rolling tobacco – all believed to be illegal.
The visits across the region led to illegal tobacco being seized from three different properties.
Tracey Noon, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. “Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills with responsibility for Trading Standards said: “We will not tolerate the sale of illegal tobacco and we will do everything to stop it.
“For those who think avoiding paying duty is a victimless crime, think again; it reduces the revenue available to spend on public services and puts children at risk. These criminals sell tobacco to children at pocket money prices and they don’t bother to ask for proof of age.”
Jay Capel, Lead Officer on Age Restricted Products for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Services, said: “Selling illegal tobacco and cigarettes is a crime and causes lost revenue to both legitimate local traders and the Government.
“The money lost to the Government could be spent on important public services such as schools and hospitals.
“The availability of cheap illegal tobacco and cigarettes also makes it harder for people to stop smoking and encourages children and young people to start.”