Thousands of illegal vapes seized in council crackdown across East Durham

Jan 26, 2024 | Local News

Illegal vapes worth more than £15,000 have been seized during a crackdown operation in County Durham.

Durham County Council’s Trading Standards team targeted shops in the east of the county suspected to be selling counterfeit cigarettes and vape products that do not meet legal requirements.Working in partnership with Durham Constabulary, officers seized a total of 1,196 suspected illegal vapes worth approximately £15,300.

The team also seized 49 packets of cigarettes suspected to be counterfeit and valued at £245. If genuine, the value of the cigarettes would have been £539.

Ian Harrison, Durham County Council’s business compliance manager, said: “The sale of illicit items has a serious impact on our communities. It attracts crime to neighbourhoods and makes it easier for children to access age-restricted products.

“As a result of this operation, thousands of illegal items have now been removed from the market and we will continue to work with our partners to tackle the sale of these products.

“Retailers can always ask us for advice if they are ever in doubt about whether a product is compliant. We would also urge members of the public with any information on the suspected sale of illegal items to report it to us, so that we can investigate and act.”

Detective Superintendent Andy Reynolds, from Durham Constabulary, said: “Illicit and dangerous tobacco and vapes 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 and violent offences.

“It is crucial that we work collectively with our partners to keep our communities safe, and this operation is an excellent example of that.

“By working collaboratively with the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), Trading Standards, Immigration Enforcement, and HMRC, we have taken a significant amount of illegal and dangerous vapes and tobacco off the streets of east Durham, which proves vital in tackling criminality, antisocial behaviour and protecting vulnerable people.

“If you have any information regarding potential criminality in your community then please report it to us – we will always act on intelligence submitted to us.

“Call us on 101 with any information, or 999 in an emergency.”

Information about the sale of illicit tobacco can be given anonymously, either by calling 0300 999 000 or visiting www.keep-it-out.co.uk