Thousands of illegal cigarettes among items seized in Wigan raids
A Trading Standards operation also gathered vodka and tobacco.
Officers from Wigan Council conducted seven visits across the borough following tip-offs from members of the public.
Items were seized at four of the premises visited, with the raids discovering more than 11,000 cigarettes, 1.5kg of tobacco and 57 bottles of vodka.
The council says illegal tobacco makes it easier for children and young people to buy cigarettes and get hooked on smoking and warned people making money out of it do not care who they are selling to or what the consequences of their actions could be.
Coun Paul Prescott, portfolio holder for environment at Wigan Council, said: “We remain determined to clamp down on people who deal in illicit goods.
“Information provided by residents and businesses allows our Trading Standards team, working with local police, to investigate and take enforcement action against those selling illegal tobacco.
“Cigarettes and tobacco are extremely harmful and cause long term damage, but illegal tobacco is often much cheaper, making it much easier for young people to start smoking.”
The Greater Manchester Illicit Tobacco Survey 2021 illustrated that while fewer adult smokers are now buying illegal tobacco (20 per cent in 2018 compared to 16 per cent in 2021), more 14 or 15-year-old smokers say they have been offered illegal tobacco, with a rise from 10 per cent in 2018 to a quarter in 2021.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, the Keep It Out campaign generated nearly 400 reports of illegal tobacco being sold in Greater Manchester which led to raids, shops facing closure orders and huge fines.
More than 2.3 million illegal cigarettes and more than 270kg of illicit hand-rolling tobacco was seized by Trading Standards officers from across the city-region.
A further phase of the Keep It Out campaign is now underway across Greater Manchester.
Andrea Crossfield, Making Smoking History lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The crackdown on illegal tobacco is part of Greater Manchester’s wider efforts to cut smoking rates and make smoking history for future generations.
"While it is encouraging to see fewer adults trying and buying illegal tobacco, it is worrying to see so many young people being offered it.
“All tobacco kills, but people who sell illegal tobacco sell to kids, getting them hooked on a lethal addiction and cheaper prices undermine smokers’ quit attempts.
"Whether legal or illegal, all tobacco contains a toxic cocktail of chemicals which will kill one in two long term smokers.
“It’s not just about the impact on our health though, the illegal tobacco market is fuelled by organised crime groups and that’s why we’re raising awareness of the harm it brings to our neighbourhoods and encouraging people to report illegal sales to keep our kids safe and smoke-free.”
If anyone wishes to report the sale of illegal tobacco they can ring Wigan Council in confidence on 01942 827479 or email [email protected]
For more information about the campaign, visit keep-it-out.co.uk
If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers.