INVESTIGATIONS are continuing following a seizure of 12,500 cigarettes from three shops in Dorset as part of a national operation.

As reported, Dorset Council’s Trading Standards team, working with Dorset Police and HM Revenue and Customs, confiscated in excess 12,500 cigarettes and 37 pouches of hand rolling tobacco from two Weymouth shops and one site in north Dorset on Thursday, November 4.

It has now been revealed that investigations remain ongoing following the seizure as Trading Standards continue with their work.

Richard Herringshaw, principal Trading Standards officer, said: “Supplying illegal tobacco is a crime which undermines people’s health and affects legitimate traders.

“This was one part of a national operation to disrupt such activity. We are grateful for the support of Dorset Police, HMRC and the Trading Standards South West Regional Enforcement Team.

“Investigations continue into the activities of the businesses identified in this operation.”

The seized items included counterfeit products and illegally imported products without warning labelling and with no duty paid.

When carrying out the seizure teams from the multi-agency response were aided by a sniffer dog which helped to uncover tobacco hidden in a wall at one of the sites.

Teams also found illegal stock which was being sold and was not out on display, but rather being ‘under the counter’ goods.

Dorset Police confirmed no arrests were made, with Trading Standards able to bring their own prosecutions against people breaching the laws regarding tobacco.

Dorset Echo: Seized tobacco. Picture: Dorset Council

The force also confirmed that officers were only supporting Trading Standards and HMRC, with the former taking the lead on the initiative.

Neither Dorset Council, Dorset Police or Trading Standards were able to confirm which shops the products were seized from because the investigation remains ongoing.

Wendy Martin, Director, National Trading Standards, said:  “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. The National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC is playing a significant role in disrupting this illicit trade and is helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.” 

A spokesperson for Dorset Council, echoing the thoughts of the other agencies involved, added: “Anyone wanting to report suspected illegal tobacco can either report it via or contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.”