Sunday, 1 November 2015

Shopkeepers Targeted In Illegal Cigarette Crackdown

It seems as though there is a renewed focus on preventing people from buying illegal cigarettes. There are a number of ways in which the dangers of buying counterfeit or fake tobacco or cigarettes can be highlighted but in these tough economic times, putting this message across to the consumer doesn’t appear to be working. The vast majority of people that smoke know that it is bad for them and a great proportion of the people that smoke will be fully aware that counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco can carry even more problems and issues for them. However, given the price of tobacco and the fact that people are addicted to the product, it is understandable that people are going to look for a solution that saves them some money.
This means that focusing a message on the end-user isn’t going to make a difference. If there is a supply of illegal tobacco available, people will buy it. This means that the focus on stopping this market from operating has to fall on the supply and sale of the product, and this is something that is being undertaken across the United Kingdom at the moment. This is an action that is being undertaken by a number of agencies working together. Clearly there are a lot of people that will benefit from a reduction or total cessation of illegal tobacco so it makes sense for the various parties to work together in an attempt to stop these products from flooding onto the market.

A number of teams are working closely to shut this activity down

The Trading Standards team in Lincolnshire have been working closely with the local council and officers from the local police force’s Beat Team. This has helped them to obtain warrants to search premises where they believe illegal tobacco products are being sold from. You can see why some retailers would be tempted to sell these products because it will provide them with a greater level of profit. Things are hard for many businesses and while these products shouldn’t be sold, there will be some shopkeepers who can rationalise the sale of these items.
After all, if they are providing a service that consumers are looking for, they can say that they are merely meeting the demands of their audience. This is pretty much how capitalism works but of course, the capitalist argument falls apart when you consider that selling illegal tobacco and cigarette products is actually an illegal offence.

Sniffer dogs are being used frequently

The teams involved were also helped out by a sniffer dog that played a strong role in sniffing out any illegal tobacco products that were on the premises.
Emma Milligan is the Principal Trading Standards Officer for Lincolnshire County Council and she spoke to local media, saying; “We received intel via Crimestoppers that fake fags were being stored and sold from the properties. We acted quickly with our enforcement colleagues from Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Police forces, and managed to intercept packets of non-duty paid and incorrectly labelled fags and counterfeit hand rolled tobacco. As Trading Standards Officers, we’re here to ensure a fair and equitable trading environment for all, so we’re here to protect consumers and genuine retailers selling genuine products and crack down on those who don’t. It is also important for us to protect young people from buying age-restricted products. Investigations are ongoing.”
Sergeant Gary Jones is part of the Community Beat Team for Lincolnshire Police and he said; “Tackling serious and organised crime is a priority for agencies in Lincolnshire. Joint working can really make a difference to our ongoing commitment to reduce the threat and harm that it poses to our local communities. All agencies working together was crucial in the planning of this operation. I’m delighted that we managed to seize a number of unsafe and non-duty paid goods, which are now off the streets. We are as determined as ever to keep up the pressure on those who commit and fund criminality.”
With a greater crackdown on these illegal tobacco products taking place, it seems as though there will be a need for solicitors with relevant skills and experience to offer their services. No matter what charges you face, calling on a solicitor with relevant skills and experience is vital in moving forward in the correct manner and being represented in the correct manner. While many of the shopkeepers will not face jail for the first offence or two, there is a very real risk of losing their licence to sell alcohol or tobacco products, which could be a massive blow to their business.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.