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Raids uncover Illegal tobacco and vaping products linked to Bensham shops

Tobacco seizure

More than 40,000 illegal cigarettes, nearly 24kg of counterfeit tobacco, and 95 illegal disposable e-cigarettes were seized from two shops in Bensham this week.

Officers from Gateshead Council's Trading Standards team and Police Officers from Northumbria Police uncovered the haul at Whitehall Corner Shop on Rawling Road, and Ali Baba on Coatsworth Road, with the assistance of a specially trained search dog.

The vast majority of the illegal products were located within vehicles associated with the owners of the shops, as well as a quantity at a private residence. A further amount was found concealed in a hidden compartment within a stock room.

The searches took place as part of Operation CeCe, a national Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.

Councillor Linda Green, Cabinet Member for Communities and Volunteering says these raids should act as a stark warning to other retailers engaging in criminal activity.

"Gateshead Council works very closely with Northumbria Police to protect residents from criminal activity in Gateshead, and these latest raids clearly demonstrate the decisive action we will continue to take against anybody we suspect of breaking the law.

"Criminal behaviour such as this can have many detrimental effects on local communities, including increasing anti-social behaviour, and it will not be tolerated."

Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health at Gateshead Council said:

"Tobacco use is a huge problem in Gateshead - it will kill at least 1 in 2 lifelong smokers and causes over 500 deaths each year, and the supply of illegal tobacco makes it so much more difficult to tackle the issue. Cheap illegal tobacco is directly responsible for new addictions among children and young people, and makes it harder for existing smokers to break free from smoking.

It is also vital we support regulation of vaping products to ensure they are not sold to children and reassure smokers that the products they're switching to are significantly less harmful than tobacco."

Inspector Kevin Ashurst from Northumbria Police said:

"We will continue to work with our partners and support them in any way we can to ensure harmful and illegal items are seized and taken out of circulation.

"Those living in our communities might not see any issues with buying counterfeit cigarettes or illegal goods, but what they might not realise is that the money made from selling goods like these are often funnelled into organised crime and used to help those breaking the law carry out further illicit activity."

If you'd like to share some information and help keep illegal tobacco out of your community, you can report it on the Illegal Tobacco Hotline: 0300 999 0000. It's quick, easy and completely anonymous.

Tobacco seizure
19 May 2022

More than 40,000 illegal cigarettes, nearly 24kg of counterfeit tobacco, and 95 illegal disposable e-cigarettes were seized from two shops in Bensham this week.

Officers from Gateshead Council's Trading Standards team and Police Officers from Northumbria Police uncovered the haul at Whitehall Corner Shop on Rawling Road, and Ali Baba on Coatsworth Road, with the assistance of a specially trained search dog.

The vast majority of the illegal products were located within vehicles associated with the owners of the shops, as well as a quantity at a private residence. A further amount was found concealed in a hidden compartment within a stock room.

The searches took place as part of Operation CeCe, a national Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.

Councillor Linda Green, Cabinet Member for Communities and Volunteering says these raids should act as a stark warning to other retailers engaging in criminal activity.

"Gateshead Council works very closely with Northumbria Police to protect residents from criminal activity in Gateshead, and these latest raids clearly demonstrate the decisive action we will continue to take against anybody we suspect of breaking the law.

"Criminal behaviour such as this can have many detrimental effects on local communities, including increasing anti-social behaviour, and it will not be tolerated."

Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health at Gateshead Council said:

"Tobacco use is a huge problem in Gateshead - it will kill at least 1 in 2 lifelong smokers and causes over 500 deaths each year, and the supply of illegal tobacco makes it so much more difficult to tackle the issue. Cheap illegal tobacco is directly responsible for new addictions among children and young people, and makes it harder for existing smokers to break free from smoking.

It is also vital we support regulation of vaping products to ensure they are not sold to children and reassure smokers that the products they're switching to are significantly less harmful than tobacco."

Inspector Kevin Ashurst from Northumbria Police said:

"We will continue to work with our partners and support them in any way we can to ensure harmful and illegal items are seized and taken out of circulation.

"Those living in our communities might not see any issues with buying counterfeit cigarettes or illegal goods, but what they might not realise is that the money made from selling goods like these are often funnelled into organised crime and used to help those breaking the law carry out further illicit activity."

If you'd like to share some information and help keep illegal tobacco out of your community, you can report it on the Illegal Tobacco Hotline: 0300 999 0000. It's quick, easy and completely anonymous.

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