County Durham shop closed after hidden illegal cigarettes, tobacco and vapes found and seized

A shop in County Durham has been ordered to close for three months after selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Some of the illegal goods were found hidden in an engine compartment of a car parked at the shop.

Durham County Council’s community protection service secured a closure order for Shop & Go, on West Road in Annfield Plain, following two test purchases and several inspections at the shop. Cigarettes, hand rolling tobacco and vapes were seized which did not have the correct packaging and health warnings. The size of the tanks of the vapes were more than the legal limit.

In total, 246 packets of cigarettes (4,920 individual cigarettes), 106 pouches of 50g (5.3kg) hand rolling tobacco and 187 vapes were seized. The estimated value of the cigarettes and tobacco was £2,502.

Sold lawfully, they would have had an estimated value of £6,328.36. The estimated illicit value of the vapes was £1,860. During one inspection, the items were found to be hidden in the engine compartment of a vehicle at the premises.

Officers were told by the owner that the findings were due to a ‘rogue employee’ who had been sacked. However, during a following visit to the premises, officers made a further test purchase.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court granted a three-month closure order for nuisance in relation to the sale and possession of illicit tobacco and non-compliant vapes. Shop & Go was ordered to pay £1,398 costs.

Gary Carr, Durham County Council’s strategic regulation manager, said: “Illicit tobacco has a detrimental impact on our communities. It has links to organised crime, can harm people’s health, and makes it easier for young people to obtain unsafe items. It also has an impact on businesses in the area which are compliant.

“We will continue to work with partners to tackle anyone selling illicit tobacco products and non-compliant vapes. This case should serve as a warning to non-compliant businesses that they face the risk of closure and being taken to court if they are found to be selling illicit products.”

Anyone with information on the sale of illicit tobacco is encouraged to report it anonymously via Keep it Out on 0800 555 111 or online at