In Folkestone and Hythe, a highly trained dog has been deployed to detect illicit tobacco and vaping products resulting in a day of disruption for those attempting to flout the law.

Officers from Kent Trading Standards, Folkestone and Hythe District Council and Kent Police have conducted seven visits to retail outlets as part of a day of disruption. Due to the nature of the visits, the multi-agency team was supported by detection dog specialists BWY Canine, who deployed Cooper with a nose for tobacco.

Cooper a trained tobacco detection dog sits in front of the open back of a van full of evidence bags containing illegal cigarettes and vapes

Photo: KCC

Trading Standards officers seized a significant combined quantity of illegal tobacco products and or vapes during five of the seven visits.

James Whiddett, Operations Manager for Kent Trading Standards, said:

“The multi-agency approach to the activity enabled officers to deal with the premises in an effective way.

“The use of Cooper the detection dog was extremely helpful as some premises use sophisticated hides for the illegal product that only Cooper can find.

“Trading Standards will continue to remove illegal tobacco from the high streets of Kent as this illegal activity brings criminals into our communities and can encourage children to smoke due to the cheap price of the products.”

Trading Standards works with partner agencies on the issues found on the day to ensure that engagement is made where compliance activity is appropriate or conduct further enforcement investigations as required.

Detective Inspector James Wyles from Kent Police’s Community Safety Unit said:

“The sale of illegal vaping and tobacco products brings organised crime into communities and undermines local legitimate businesses. They can also pose a serious threat to public safety.

“As part of our work to keep Folkestone safe we will continue to work with partner agencies, and Cooper the detection dog, to prevent the sale of these potentially dangerous products.”

Cllr Mike Blakemore, Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Collaboration, added:

“Illegal tobacco and vaping products can have a damaging impact on local communities.

“These visits help to protect residents from the organised crime associated with the trade, as well as reduce the risk of children and young people taking up smoking in the first place.”

Lord Michael Bichard, Chair, National Trading Standards,said:

“The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. Having removed 27 million illegal cigarettes, 7,500kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.”

More information

By Ed

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