Posted on Wednesday 22 February 2023
Almost £100,000 worth of illegal vapes and cigarettes have been seized following the latest joint operation by trading standards and police.
Our trading standards team joined forces with police officers from Durham Constabulary, to ramp up its enforcement action in response to multiple complaints about the sales of vapes to children as young as 12 and the supply of over-strength vapes.
Several days of action have resulted in seizures of illegal over-strength vapes and/or illegal cigarettes.
The joint operation aims to tackle the roots of the problem as well as removing illegal goods from sale and the total value of seized goods so far is almost £100,000, which will have a huge impact on those traders who deliberately flout the law.
Following our previous day of action, seizures of illegal vapes have been made in Darlington from Neasham Road Mini Market; Magic Vape on Tubwell Row; Cloud Collaborative on King Street; Darlo Phone Repair on Skinnergate and Dima Mini Market on North Road.
Suspected counterfeit or illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco have also been seized from Neasham Road Mini Market and associated addresses; Dima Mini Market on North Road; Easy Shop on Victoria Road and S V Mini Market on Gladstone Street.
This operation has so far removed 4,802 illegal vapes from sale, ranging from 2,500 puffs to 10,000. A 3,500 puff vape is approximately equivalent to smoking 280 cigarettes. In addition, 112,540 illegal cigarettes and 36.75kg of hand-rolling tobacco were also seized.
The premises were all visited following complaints from members of the public. All traders were given advice on the law, particularly in relation to underage sales, and reminded of their obligations.
Shaun Trevor, who led the operation on behalf of trading standards, said: “If you sell illegal vapes or cigarettes, especially to children, then expect a visit from us.
“We would encourage residents to report any concerns about any suspected illegal products. We take complaints seriously and will investigate them all and take action where appropriate. We have further action planned in order to stem the flow of these illegal products in Darlington.”
Councillor Mike Renton, the council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, added: “This trade in illegal goods not only harms our communities but also businesses who are complying with the law and finding that they can’t compete with nearby stores selling illegal goods at pocket money prices.
“We will continue our efforts to monitor and visit stores which sell illegal products and don’t comply with age restrictions, and will use all available measures including prosecuting those responsible to put a stop to this trade.”
Inspector Peter Newman, from Durham Constabulary, said: “Illicit and dangerous tobacco can not only cause serious harm to people’s health, but the proceeds are often invested into organised crime and can help fund more serious offences.
“If you have information regarding potential criminality in your community, please report it to us.”
If you have any information that can assist trading standards can please email firstname.lastname@example.org or report it using the online form (this can be done anonymously) at www.darlington.gov.uk/ts-report-it