Thousands of illicit cigarettes seized

A borough wide crackdown against the sale of illicit tobacco saw the seizure of 1,180 packets of cigarettes in just one day by Enfield Council’s Licensing Enforcement Team.

The team, working with a Police Licensing Officer, HMRC Officers, a dog handler and dogs from Wagtail International carried out a day of unannounced visits to shops in the borough on 6 August.

The packets - equating to 23,600 sticks of cigarettes in total - were seized from three premises. They were found to have not paid duties/taxes and did not conform to standardised packaging rules. It is thought that they had all been smuggled into the UK from abroad. The shops were in Southgate, Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill wards.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulatory Services, Cllr George Savva, said: “The trade in illicit tobacco has serious consequences for health and community cohesion in Enfield. In addition, it unfairly impacts legitimate businesses who do the right thing and pay the correct taxes. Make no mistake, illicit tobacco is not a victimless crime."

There are three types of illegal tobacco - smuggled, bootlegged and fake. They are the root cause of several problems:

* Young people can access cheap cigarettes because sales are unregulated, so they make it easier for children to take up the habit
* Tobacco smuggling costs the government more than £3 billion a year in lost revenue
* Cheap, smuggled or fake tobacco products increase the instances of criminality and anti-social behaviour in communities
* Fake cigarettes can often contain unexpected and sometimes dangerous ingredients such as pesticides
* Legal cigarettes are manufactured to meet safety standards. Illegal cigarettes are likely not self-extinguishable and are attributed to a number of house fires and deaths.

Licensing Enforcement Officers are in the process of checking the history of each of the three outlets and are carrying out full license inspections. By bringing smuggled goods onto licensed premises, the businesses could see their licences revoked and they may also face prosecution.

If you want to report the sale of counterfeit or illicit tobacco in Enfield, contact Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

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