Published: Thursday, 8th February 2018

The 22,800 fake cigarettes had been illegally shipped to a mail box address in Royal Greenwich.

Trading Standards officers, acting on information, managed to swoop on the mail box and quickly confiscate the potentially dangerous cigarettes on the day they were delivered to the Royal Borough.

The haul with a street value of more than £12,000 had been illegally shipped and imported into the country from China in a number of small packages.

The action was carried out as part of the Council's battle to rid the streets of illicit and counterfeit cigarettes and the tobacco products. The Council is determined to stamp out the trade which has proven links to organised criminal gangs.

A key concern is that counterfeit cigarettes are sold without regard to age restrictions so their availability encourages children and young people to start and then stay smokers. The products are also much cheaper and so it also undermines efforts to help people quit smoking.

In addition Illegal cigarettes do not conform to safety standards and have frequently been found not to self-extinguish when left - as legitimate ones do - which poses a fire risk.

The Council's Trading Standard officers work with HM Revenue and Customs as well as the Met Police to tackle the illegal tobacco trade and make prosecutions. Specially trained sniffer dogs, who can track down fake products however well hidden, have been deployed in the borough's successful work. The officers act on essential information and intelligence received from residents and businesses.

Report illicit tobacco

To report concerns over the illicit tobacco email

'Great work in our fight against illegal tobacco'

Councillor Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, said: "This is great work in our fight against the availability of illegal tobacco. The trade supports other criminal activity in our communities such as drug dealing which is why it is vital that we stamp down heavily on it. The low price tag might appear attractive but the true cost to people and the community is high.

"We urge everyone to report any suspected sales of potentially dangerous cigarette and tobacco products so we can disrupt this trade and catch the criminals involved."

'Important that cheap illegal tobacco is not available'

Councillor David Gardner, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: "Smoking is key public health issue for us and we are campaigning to reduce it to protect people from devastating smoking-related illnesses. This is why it is so important that cheap illegal tobacco which encourages young people to start smoking and discourages current smokers from quitting is not available.

"The Greenwich Stop Smoking service is currently running a seven week touring 'Quit your way, today' road show around the borough with friendly, trained advisors who can help people give up smoking in the way best suited to them."