An operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco across Devon, Somerset and Torbay uncovered more than 8,100 cigarettes and four kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, all believed to be illicit.

Around 24 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service and Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards, visited retail premises and self-storage units across the region on Friday 21 September.

A total of 33 sites were visited in Exeter, Cullompton, Tiverton, Honiton, Woodbury and Woodbury Salterton in Devon, Taunton, Bridgwater, Chard and Yeovil in Somerset and Torquay and Paignton in Torbay.

The visits, as part of HMRC’s Tobacco Taskforce activity, led to suspected illegal tobacco products being seized from three premises. This included:

  • 8,120 cigarettes, with an estimated £1,763 duty and VAT evaded
  • 4.5kg kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, with an estimated £986 duty and VAT evaded

Tracey Noon, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Jay Capel, Lead Officer on Age Restricted Products for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Services, said:

“Selling illegal tobacco and cigarettes is a crime and causes lost revenue to both legitimate local traders and the Government. The money lost to the Government could be spent on important public services such as schools and hospitals. The availability of cheap illegal tobacco and cigarettes also makes it harder for people to stop smoking and encourages children and young people to start.”

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