MORE than 1,600 cigarettes and 200 electronic cigarettes have been seized as part of a crackdown on illegal tobacco products in Cheshire West.
Officers from Cheshire West and Chester Council joined forces with HMRC and Cheshire Police as part of Operation Nottingham, targeting premises Winsford, as well as Chester and Ellesmere Port.
A total of 1,655 cigarettes and 3.65kg tobacco was seized.
The operation uncovered sophisticated methods of concealment and all seized goods were believed to be non-compliant with safety and labelling requirements for tobacco products, while some of the seized items were also counterfeit and in breach of trademark legislation.
The council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, councillor Karen Shore said: “Illegal tobacco supports other criminal activity and has many damaging effects on our communities, as well as causing poor health.
“People may be tempted by the cheap price tag, but it's worth considering the great cost to your health, safety and community.
“The popularity of disposable electronic cigarettes has also seen an increase in non-compliant goods finding their way into the market.
“All businesses should be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with relevant legislation and non-compliance could result in stock being seized and destroyed, and in some cases prosecution.”
Non-compliant electronic cigarettes were also found in the course of the operation, resulting in the seizure of 214 devices.
Electronic cigarettes must comply with certain requirements including liquid capacity limits, nicotine content and other labelling requirements.
Anyone seeking advice regarding the sale of electronic cigarettes can contact email@example.com.
The council and partner Brio Leisure have launched a stop smoking service for anyone in the borough who needs support.
Previously only available to people who were referred by their GP or health care professional, it is now open to all.
For information and support visit cheshirechangehub.org, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0300 777 0033.
The new ‘Go Smokefree’ service allows residents to self-refer for support to quit smoking, giving them access to 12 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy and unlimited behavioural support for as long as they feel they need.
One-to-one support is available in one of 18 venues across the borough.
Additionally, residents can be supported via telephone, text, or via Brio’s Facebook page.