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Trading Standards officers at Portsmouth City Council have seized more than 22,000 cigarettes from a shop in Portsmouth as a part of the citywide campaign against the sale of illicit tobacco.
Neil Fitzpatrick, Principal Trading Standards Officer for Portsmouth City Council said:
"Following a tip off, trading standards officers visited a shop in Portsea on 21 October to conduct an inspection and discovered the cigarettes concealed in a number of different areas.
The seizure is a part of an ongoing investigation and I am unable to provide any further details at this time. I would however welcome any information from the public about shops or individuals selling illegal tobacco".
"The Real Cost" campaign is a partnership between Portsmouth City Council Trading Standards, NHS Portsmouth, Department of Health and HMRC that aims to make the public aware on the dangers of illegal tobacco, but also to prevent and disrupt the supply of these products into the community.
Councillor Eleanor Scott, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Community Safety said:
"The illegal tobacco trade has a huge effect on the Portsmouth community. The criminals involved are not concerned who they sell tobacco to and often supply to children and young people. Honest retailers also suffer because they have to compete with the black market economy.
"This seizure is a great triumph for the city but smuggled and counterfeit tobacco remains a problem in our community and I would encourage the public to speak out against any individuals or shops that are selling these goods."
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, MBE, NHS Portsmouth's Director of Public Health and Primary Care said,
"The overall tobacco control strategy for Portsmouth is focussed on three central themes of 'Prevent, Treat and Enforce' and this seizure demonstrates the role and hard work of all the organisations involved in The Real Cost campaign."
People who have any information or concerns that they want to share around the sale of illegal tobacco in their area can call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.
To find out the real cost of illegal tobacco visit www.direct.gov.uk/illegaltobaccoportsmouth