Significant quantities of illegal tobacco were seized last week by Trading Standards Officers supported by North Wales Police from various locations around Wrexham.
Over 30,000 cigarettes, a quantity of hand rolling tobacco and £10,000 in cash was seized as part of Operation Cece with the intention of causing maximum disruption to the illegal tobacco trade.
This latest operation follows on from previous operations over the past 18 months targeting the supply of illegal tobacco in our community with the intention of seizing product, disrupting the market and, where appropriate, taking legal action including prosecution of dealers.
Smoking is the single biggest cause of premature death in the UK and in Wales kills about 5,500 people every year. Many more suffer long term illness and disability as a direct consequence of their habit. Whilst smoking rates in Wales and the rest of the UK have been steadily declining over recent years, prevalence amongst teenagers has remained the same. About 30 children start smoking every day in Wales.
Trading Standards and Licensing Lead, Roger Mapleson of Wrexham’s Public Protection Service said, “Illegal tobacco is a threat because its low cost and availability make it easy for children to obtain cigarettes and risk a life-long addiction to tobacco and it makes it harder for existing smokers to quit. Illegal tobacco sellers don’t care who they sell to and non-smoking children are a lucrative target.
“At least 1 in 3 young people who experiment with smoking end up with a long term addiction. Most adult smokers want to quit but easy to obtain cheap fags is a difficult temptation to resist given the highly addictive nature of tobacco. We need the help of the local community to tackle illegal tobacco and drive it out of local communities. It is supplied as part of an organised criminal activity that is linked to other criminal activity including the supply of illegal drugs, smuggling and modern slavery”
Cllr Terry Evans, Lead Member for Planning and Public Protection, said, “If you see, or know of cheap tobacco being sold in shops, from private houses, in pubs or the workplace or through social media please help protect our communities and report it. You can do this in confidence by reporting on line or 029 2049 0621.”
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