Illicit tobacco and alcohol seized in Skipton

This story was published 21 February 2020

Five thousand illicit cigarettes and more than 1,000 litres of illicit alcohol have been seized from a shop in Skipton.

Some of the alcohol seized in the operation

The seizure of 5,000 cigarettes, 2kg of hand rolling tobacco and 1,091 litres of alcohol is the result of a joint operation between North Yorkshire County Council’s Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs after information was received alleging persistent sales of illicit cigarettes and alcohol were taking place at the retail premises. Following the seizures, an investigation is under way.

The seizure comes just weeks after Wagtail UK detection dogs were used by Trading Standards to identify illicit tobacco at locations in Scarborough and forms part of a wider zero tolerance approach under the banner of Keep It Out, a regional campaign that aims to highlight the dangers associated with the supply of illicit tobacco.

The Keep It Out campaign, which is funded by North Yorkshire Public Health, explains how illicit tobacco undermines tobacco control programmes by being cheaper at the point of sale, making it harder for smokers to quit. It explains how the lack of regulation means that children are more likely to buy it and how its supply funds the activity of criminal gangs.

The campaign and the seizures of illicit product are part of the County Council’s commitment to deliver the aspirations of the North Yorkshire Tobacco Control Strategy, which is founded on a vision to inspire a smoke-free generation in North Yorkshire.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “Our Trading Standards team is urging anyone who has information about the supply of illicit tobacco to help tackle this problem by reporting it through the Keep It Out e-form on, or by calling 0300 999 0000.”

County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Trading Standards, added: “This is a great example of partnership working, with two organisations coming together to tackle a major problem in our communities. Both Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs have a zero tolerance approach to the supply of illicit tobacco and alcohol and retailers who choose to ignore their legal and social obligations must understand that criminal activity will not be tolerated.”

Russell Murphy, Regional Assistant Director, Individuals and Small Business Compliance, HMRC, said: “The sale of illicit tobacco and alcohol 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 and alcohol market, which costs the UK around £2.7 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”