Consumers and legitimate businesses continue to help to keep illegal tobacco out of their streets following the implementation of the latest phase of an already successful campaign to reduce the size of the market in illegal tobacco across local communities.

The 'Keep it Out' campaign is the campaign from the North of England tackling Illegal tobacco for Better Health' programme which Fresh Smoke Free North East has led in the North East of England since 2009 and working with HMRC, the three regional Police Services, Trading Standards services and the Health services. 

Since its launch in 2009 the North East has had success in reducing the volume of illegal tobacco bought by 39%, and the number of smokers buying illegal tobacco has fallen by 10%. This is estimated to have saved around £36 million duty and tax. The overall national market has shown a massive decline by half in the last decade thanks to major national and international action.

illegal tobacco - keep it out logo

Responses to the Campaigns from the Trading Standards service  

Smoke Free Newcastle have agreed a local implementation programme for the campaign which has included the adoption of the following operational tactics:

Enforcement Activity

1. Pack Scanning

In 2010 officers visited some 177 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 3,500 packs of 20 cigarettes (70,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices. All retailers visited were provided with campaign advice packs, containing posters and background materials.

As part of a follow-up operations carried out in November and December 2010, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 600 packs of 20 cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices.

Further operations were carried out in May and June 2011, officers visited some 50 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 1,000 packs of 20 cigarettes (20,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices.

Operations were carried out in June and July 2012, officers visited some 50 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 1,000 packs of 20 cigarettes (20,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. 3 packs of cigarettes in one premises were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices.

Operations were carried out in May and June 2013, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 600 packs of 20 cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices.

Operations were carried out in May and June 2014, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 600 packs of 20 cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices, four such notices were provided to retailers where notices were not displayed. 

Operations were carried out in May and June 2015, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 600 packs of 20 cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices, five such notices were provided to retailers where notices were not displayed. 

Operations were carried out in June 2016, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking 600 packs of 20 cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner provided by HMRC. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as advertising and display of statutory warning notices, three such notices were provided to retailers where notices were not displayed. 

Operations were carried out in July and August 2017, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking some 600 packs of cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as the advertising and display of statutory warning notices, two such notices were provided to retailers where notices were not displayed.   

Operations were carried out in July and August 2018, officers visited some 30 retail premises across the city selling cigarettes, checking some 600 packs of cigarettes (12,000 individual cigarettes) using a hand held scanner. Positively, none of the packs of cigarettes scanned were found to be illegal products. The opportunity was used during the visits to check all other tobacco enforcement related issues such as the advertising and display of statutory warning notices, four such notices were provided to retailers where notices were not displayed.   

2. Operation Vienetta

39 mobile vendors including burger vans and ice cream vans were visited by officers. It is pleasing to note that only one mobile vendor was selling cigarettes and these were found to be legal. At the end of these retail visits, campaign advice packs containing posters and background material were left with a number of these mobile vendors.

In September 2012 a further 14 mobile vendors were visited by officers. None of these premises were found to be selling cigarettes.

In May, June and July 2013 a further 12 mobile vendors were visited by officers. None of these premises were found to be selling cigarettes.

In May 2014 a further 10 mobile vendors were visited by officers. None of these premises were found to be selling cigarettes.

In August 2015 a further 10 mobile vendors were visited by officers. None of these premises were found to be selling cigarettes.

In June 2016 a further 10 mobile officers were visited by officers. None of these premises were found to be selling cigarettes. 

3. Operation Raleigh

Following information received from legitimate traders, it emerged that some food premises, primarily serving the BME communities, were engaged in the supply of illegal cigarettes and niche tobacco products. Officers worked in full co-operation and with the full assistance of the Specialist Investigation team at HMRC to follow up on the intelligence as received. Some 22 visits to retail premises across the city were conducted in September 2010. In summary the joint operations resulted in the seizure of some 11,326 illegal cigarettes, including brands such as "Jin Ling", "Business Royals" and "Kingdom"; 17 packets of "Black Snuff" and 9 KG's of niche tobacco products.

A further 17 visits to retail premises across the city were conducted in October 2010. It was pleasing to note that no illegal tobacco products were found during this operation.

Again in December 2010, joint visits with officers from HMRC, were conducted on some 16 retail premises in the city. In 2 of these premises, a significant number of packets of niche tobacco, were seized. 

In January 2011, a number of domestic and retail premises were visited in a joint operation by officers from HMRC and the Trading Standards service.

In April 2011, joint visits with officers from HMRC, were conducted on some 10 retail premises in the city. In one of these premises, some 2,000 illegal cigarettes were seized. In another premises some 39 packets of hand rolling tobacco, together with various niche tobacco products were also seized.

In July 2011, visits were conducted on some 11 retail premises in the city. It was pleasing to report that in all of these premises, the cigarettes found and examined proved to be legal products.  

In January and February 2012, visits were conducted on some 13 retail premises in the city. In one of these premises, some 400 illegal cigarettes and packs of niche tobacco products were seized. 

In May 2012, visits were conducted on 5 retail premises across the city. No illegal tobacco products were found in these premises.  

In September 2012, visits were conducted on 15 retail premises across the city. No illegal tobacco products were found in these premises.   

In April 2013, visits were conducted on 17 retail premises across the city. No illegal tobacco products were found in these premises.  

In August 2013, a visit was conducted on a retail premises in the Walker area of the city. Illegal tobacco products were found and seized in these premises. Following a criminal investigation related to this seizure, legal proceedings were instituted against the owner of the premises. On the 6 November 2013 these matters came before Newcastle Magistrates Court with the following results:

General Dealer. Walker. Trade Marks Act 1994 and Consumer Protection Act 1987. Sale and possession of illegal tobacco. Guilty Pleas. Fined £100. Costs £170.

In January 2014, visits were conducted on 18 retail premises across the city. 7 of these premises were found to be selling legal tobacco products and no illegal tobacco was found in any of the premises visited. 

Following the receipt of intelligence about illegal tobacco from a tobacco company in May 2014, visits were conducted on 18 retail premises across the city. In 6 of the premises visited some 8,600 illegal cigarettes and 60 tobacco pouches together with niche tobacco were found and seized. To see the related press coverage around the highlighted issue go to the Chronicle of the 1 May 2014 and the Chronicle of the 23 May 2014.

Following the receipt of intelligence about illegal tobacco on the 11 December 2015, visits were conducted on 2 premises in the city. Some 5,200 illegal cigarettes and 67 tobacco pouches were found and seized.

Following the receipt of intelligence about illegal tobacco on the 9 and 15 June 2016, visits were conducted on 2 premises in the city. Some 3,400 illegal cigarettes were found and seized.

On the 28 June 2017 during visits to four retail premises, in one of this premises some 3,860 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. 

Following the receipt of intelligence about illegal tobacco on the 13 July 2017, a visit on a premises recovered a further 6,020 illegal cigarettes. 

Following the receipt of intelligence on the on the 10 August 2017 some 11,300 cigarettes and 21 packets of hand rolling tobacco were seized from a premises in the west end of the city go to the Chronicle of the 11 August 2017. A further operation on the 29 August 2017 resulted in the seizure of some 6,000 cigarettes.

On the 2 and 3 October 2017 in two premises in the west end of the city some 6,000 cigarettes were seized by officers. 

4. Operation Henry

Following the receipt of intelligence, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team on the 7 August 2014, visits were conducted on 5 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 300 cigarettes, 25 pouches of tobacco and 30 packets of niche tobacco were found and seized. To see the related press coverage around the highlighted issue go to the Chronicle of the 8 August 2014.  

To see a copy of the published report on the national campaign go to Report (pdf, 3.79 mb)

On the 14 and 15 March with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 15 retail premises across the city, In 4 of the premises visited some 26,480 cigarettes, 2.7 Kg's of hand rolling tobacco, 317.75 litres of wine and 110.5 litres of spirits were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 17 March 2016.

In a follow up operation on the 20 April 2016 a further 2 retail premises were visited and some 6,080 cigarettes were found and seized. 

General Dealer Benwell Consumer Protection Act 1987 23/06/15 Guilty Pleas Fined £250. Costs £300
General Dealer Elswick Consumer Protection Act 1987 21/07/15 Guilty Pleas Fined £110. Costs £485
General Dealer Elswick Trade Marks Act 1994 & Consumer Protection Act 1987 08/09/16 Guilty Pleas 12 week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months. Costs £385.

5. Operation Beagle/Operation Holly

Following the receipt of intelligence, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team on the 9 December 2014, visits were conducted on 5 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 2,200 illegal cigarettes were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to Tyne Tees and the Chronicle both of the 10 December 2014.  

A further visit was conducted on one of the premises in January 2015 and some 4060 illegal cigarettes were found and seized.

On the 17 February 2015, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 6 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 10,240 illegal cigarettes were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 19 February 2015.

On the 11 March 2015, visits were paid to a further 2 premises across the city. Some 1,000 illegal cigarettes were found and seized.  

On the 12 August 2015, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 4 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 5,240 illegal cigarettes were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 12 August 2015. 

On the 8 September 2015, a follow up visit was conducted on one of the premises previously visited and some 17,640 illegal cigarettes and 4 Kg's of hand rolling tobacco were found and seized by officers.  

On the 15 September 2015, a further visit was conducted on one of the premises previously visited and some 1,760 illegal cigarettes and 500 g's of hand rolling tobacco were found and seized by officers.

On the 1 and 2 December 2015, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 10 retail premises across the city. In 5 of the premises visited some 30,000 illegal cigarettes and 400 bottles of alleged non-duty paid alcohol were found and seized by officers. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 4 December 2015.

On the 11 December 2015 and the 5 January 2016, in follow up operations some 8,800 illegal cigarettes were found and seized from 3 retail premises across Newcastle.   

On the 5 February 2016 in an another targetted operation, 30 Kg's of shisha tobacco and 420 tins of chewing tobacco were found and seized from a premises in the west end of the city. To see a press article published and related to this seizure go the Chronicle of the 13 February 2016.   

On the 26 July 2016, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 6 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 4,400 illegal cigarettes and 30 packets of Hand Rolling Tobacco were found and seized by officers.      

On the 23 August 2016, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 retail premises across the city. In 1 of the premises visited some 2,200 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers.   

On the 10 January 2017 and the 17 January 2017 during visits to two retail premises some 4,500 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. On the 30 January 2017 some 16,420 cigarettes were found and seized by officers.    

On the 31 October 2017 and the 1 November 2017, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 retail premises and 2 residential premises across the city. In three of the retail premises and two of the residential premises some 98,240 illegal cigarettes and 23 KG's of HRT were seized by officers. To see various press articles related to the seizures of the cigarettes go to Tyne Tees TV of the 31 October 2017, Tyne Tees TV of the 6 November 2017 and the Chronicle of the 7 November 2017.  

On the 1 December 2017 during a visit to a retail premises a further 2,000 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. 

On the 8 December 2017 during visits to 2 retail premises a further 4,000 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. 

On the 14 December 2017 during a visit to a private residence in the east of the city a further 10,000 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. 

On the 16 January 2018 during visits to 2 retail premises a further 8,000 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. 

On the 19 January 2018 on a visit to a retail premises, some 17,000 illegal cigarettes and 74 bottles of alcohol were found and seized from a motor vehicle parked next to a retail premises in the east of the city. To see a press article related to this seizure go to the Chronicle of the 31 January 2018.  

On the 26 January 2018 on a visit to a retail premises, some 2,800 illegal cigarettes were found and seized. 

On the 29 January 2018, Northumbria Police officers recovered some 2,400 illegal cigarettes from a retail premises. 

On the 3 March 2018, some 4,200 illegal cigarettes and 1 Kg of HRT were found and seized from a motor vehicle parked in the west end of the city. 

On the 6 March 2018, some 13,340 illegal cigarettes and 4.3 Kg's of HRT were found and seized from 4 retail premises in the city.   

On the 12 March 2018, some 2,720 illegal cigarettes and 0.55 Kg's of HRT were found and seized from a car parked in the west end of the city.

On the 14 March 2018, some 8,420 illegal cigarettes were found and seized from a premises in the east end of the city.   

The BWY Canine "illegal tobacco unit" visited Newcastle on the 24 and 25 April 2018 and on the second day of this visit, some 1000 illegal cigarettes were seized from the premises in the west end of the city, go to the City Council Newspage and YouTube.  

On the 2 May 2018, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 retail premises across the city. In five of the retail premises some 9,500 illegal cigarettes and 1 KG of HRT were seized by officers. 

On the 17 May 2018, some 19,040 illegal cigarettes were found and seized from a car parked in the west end of the city. 

On the 22 May 2018, some 1,660 illegal cigarettes and 32 packets of illegal chewing tobacco were seized from two premises in the west end of the city. 

On the 24 May 2018, some 3,400 illegal cigarettes were seized from two premises in the west end of the city.

On the 5 June 2018, some 16,140 illegal cigarettes were seized from three residential premises in the city.   

On the 7 June 2018, some 1,660 illegal cigarettes were seized from four business premises in the city.   

On the 13 June 2018, some 1000 illegal cigarettes were seized from two business premises in the city.  

On the 20 June 2018, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 business premises across the city. In five of these premises some 20,000 illegal cigarettes were seized by officers.

On the 11 July 2018, some 6,960 illegal cigarettes were seized from a residential premises in the city.

On the 13 July 2018, some 2,400 illegal cigarettes were seized from a business premises in the city.

On the 23 July 2018, some 2,920 illegal cigarettes were seized from two business premises in the city.

On the 26 July 2018, some 11,700 illegal cigarettes and 1.35 Kg's of HRT were seized from three business premises in the city.

On the 1 August 2018, some 32,860 illegal cigarettes and 8 Kg''s of HRT were seized from a residential premises in the city. To see the related press coverage on the seizure go to the Chronicle of the 2 August 2018.

On the 28 August 2018. some 760 illegal cigarettes were seized from a business premises in the city.  

On the 6 September 2018, some 2,420 illegal cigarettes were seized from two business premises in the city.

On the 27 September 2018, a Northumbria Police PCSO seized some 4,220 illegal cigarettes and 0.55 Kg's of HRT from a suitcase in the possession of an individual in the street. 

On the 4 October 2018, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog, some 6,860 illegal cigarettes were seized from three business premises in the city.

On the 12 October 2018, some 1,200 illegal cigarettes were seized from a business premises in the city.    

On the 6 November 2018, some 4,700 illegal cigarettes and 1 Kg of HRT were seized from a residential premises and a business premises in the city. 

On the 14 November 2018, some 8,600 illegal cigarettes and 0.5 Kg of HRT were seized from a parked motor vehicle in the city.

On the 17 November 2018, some 7,040 illegal cigarettes and 0.5 Kg of HRT were seized from four business premises in the city.

6. Operation Hawthorn

Operation Hawthorn was an intelligence led operation carried out during the week of the 27 February 2017 to the 3 March 2017. A total of 13,200 cigarettes were seized from a premises and a parked vehicle during this operation. To see the related press coverage on the seizure from the vehicle go to the Chronicle of the 10 March 2017.       

7. Niche Tobacco Products:

A Business Advice sheet (pdf, 117 kb) has been developed and distributed to various retail businesses in the city.

8. Evaluation of the Illegal Tobacco Campaign

Two reports have revealed how the illegal tobacco campaign in the North East and North West has made a dent in the illegal tobacco market since 2009 and encouraged more organisations to tackle it.

The North of England Tackling Illegal Tobacco for Better Health Programme has resulted in less illegal tobacco being bought and sold on estates, fewer people turning a blind eye and more action aimed at bringing sellers to justice.

The Illicit Tobacco: North of England Study 2011 analysed the attitudes and buying patterns of 4111 people across the North East and North West, while the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies has presented positive findings on the impact so far the programme has made.

A massive survey of over 4111 people across the North of England including the North East, first carried out in 2009 and repeated in 2011, has found that fewer people are buying illegal tobacco and those buying it are buying less.

Despite tab houses often being blamed for illegal tobacco sales, over half of smokers (51%) admitted they had been offered illegal tobacco in a pub or club the most likely place to be approached.

And the volume share of illegal tobacco sold by shops has increased from 6% up to 13% - suggesting a dishonest minority of traders are still operating.

It also found:

  • The volume of illegal tobacco bought has gone down by 39% in the North East. This is estimated at over £36m less avoided in duty and VAT evasion.
  • The number of smokers buying illegal tobacco has fallen by 10%, down two percentage points from 20% to 18%,
  • The number of 16-34 year olds buying illegal tobacco has reduced by 5-6%, although 23% of 16-24 year old smokers say they still buy,
  • Nearly half (47%) of smokers who buy do so infrequently (one to three times a year), with only a quarter (24%) being regular buyers (weekly or more frequently).
    Reasons given for not buying it include the foul taste and a lack of trust in sellers.
  • 14 and 15 year olds are twice as likely to buy "illicit" than adults,
  • Awareness of illegal tobacco among non-smokers has increased from 54% to 69% in 2011,
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of non-smokers and over half (53%) of smokers disagree with the statement 'buying illegal tobacco is no big deal',
  • Likelihood to report sellers has increased since 2009 amongst non-smokers and smokers, including those who admit to buying illegal tobacco,
  • Almost nine out of 10 of people agree that children and young people are at risk because they can buy easily and cheaply from unscrupulous dealers,
  • Over 6 out of 10 think that those who deal in illicit tobacco bring crime into local communities.

For more detailed information view Illicit Tobacco Evaluation (pdf, 1.25mb) or the Illicit Tobacco Executive Summary (pdf, 1.10mb) 

All Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health

View a report of the inquiry into the illicit tobacco trade (pdf, 1.3 mb)

National Audit Office Report

Report of the National Audit Office "Progress in tackling tobacco smuggling"  (pdf, 1.30mb) 

Royal United Services Institute Report

On Tap (pdf, 2.7mb)

HMRC/Border Force Report

Tackling Illicit tobacco: From leaf to light (pdf, 252kb)

Press Articles

Following the receipt of intelligence about illegal tobacco from a tobacco company in May 2014, visits were conducted on 18 retail premises across the city. To see the related press coverage around the highlighted issue go to the Chronicle of the 1 May 2014 and the Chronicle of the 23 May 2014.

Again following the receipt of intelligence, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team on the 7 August 2014, visits were conducted on 5 retail premises across the city. To see the related press coverage around the highlighted issue go to the Chronicle of the 8 August 2014.  

Following the conviction and sentencing of a Newcastle resident for dealing in illegal tobacco products go to the Chronicle of the 3 November 2014.

Following the conviction and sentencing of a number of individuals for dealing in illegal tobacco products go to the Chronicle of the 21 November 2014.

Following the receipt of intelligence, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team on the 9 December 2014, visits were conducted on 5 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 2,200 cigarettes were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to Tyne Tees and the Chronicle both of the 10 December 2014.

To see the lengths those individuals who are prepared to smuggle illegal tobacco into the UK, will go to, see the article that appeared in the Chronicle of the 8 February 2015.

On the 17 February 2015, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 6 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 10,240 illegal cigarettes were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 19 February 2015.

On the 12 August 2015, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 4 retail premises across the city. In 2 of the premises visited some 5,240 illegal cigarettes were found and seized. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 12 August 2015.  

On the 8 September 2015, a follow up visit was conducted on one of the premises previously visited and some 17,640 illegal cigarettes and 4 Kg's of hand rolling tobacco were found and seized by officers. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 10 September 2015.

Following the conviction of two individuals from Sunderland who were convicted of smuggling tobacco through Dover go to the Chronicle of the 21 September 2015.

Following an operation conducted by HMRC on a residential property in Benwell, where some 358,000 cigarettes, 220 kg's of HRT, £48,000 in cash and two vehicles were seized; go to the related press coverage in the Chronicle of the 17 October 2015.  

Following an operation conducted by HMRC on an industrial unit in Durham, where machinery was seized capable of filling 150 packets of cigarettes per minute together with 1.4 million counterfeit cigarettes; go to a press article published in the Chronicle of the 8 November 2015.

On the 2 and 3 December 2015, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted on 10 retail premises across the city. In 5 of the premises visited some 30000 illegal cigarettes and 400 bottles of alleged non-duty paid alcohol were found and seized by officers. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 4 December 2015.   

Following the detection by Police officers, of the transportation of illegal tobacco products by two Newcastle residents, go to a press article published in the Chronicle of the 27 January 2016.   

On the 5 February 2016 in an another targeted operation, 30 Kg's of shisha tobacco and 420 tins of chewing tobacco were found and seized from a premises in the west end of the city. To see a press article published and related to this seizure go the Chronicle of the 13 February 2016.  

On the 14, 15 and 29 March 2016, with the assistance of a tobacco dog team, officers under the auspices of Operation Henry 2 visited 15 premises across the city. In 4 of the premises, 26,000 cigarettes, 60 x 5 litre containers of unlabelled wine, 136 bottles of spirits and 50 bottles of wine were seized. To see a press article published and related to these seizures go to the Chronicle of the 17 March 2016.

To see the full implications of where retailers specifically within Licensed premises are prepared to become involved with illegal products such as non duty paid tobacco and alcohol go the Chronicle of the 27 April 2016 and the Chronicle of the 2 June 2016.

On the 26 July 2016 during Operation Beagle 5, 4,400 cigarettes and 30 packs of hand rolling tobacco were found and seized from 2 premises in the west end of the city. To see the press article published and related to these seizures go to the Chronicle of the 2 August 2016.     

To see a report about the action HMRC can take against those individuals found in possession of illegal tobacco go to the Chronicle of the 19 August 2016.

On the 23 August 2016 during Operation Beagle 6 with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 retail premises across the city. In 1 of the premises visited some 2,200 illegal cigarettes were found and seized by officers. To see the press article published and related to this seizure go to the Chronicle of the 25 August 2016.   

To see the consequences where the City Council decides to institute proceedings against those individuals who may become involved with illegal tobacco go to the Chronicle of the 9 September 2016 and the Chronicle of the 21 October 2016.   

To see the full implications of where retailers specifically within Licensed premises are prepared to become involved with illegal products such as non duty paid tobacco and alcohol go the Chronicle of the 27 April 2016, the Chronicle of the 2 June 2016 and the Chronicle of the 10 November 2016.

To see a report related to the seizure of some 16,420 cigarettes found and seized in a premises in the east end of the city go to the Chronicle, the Daily Express and Tyne Tees TV all of the 2 February 2017.  

Operation Hawthorn was an intelligence led operation carried out during the week of the 27 February 2017 to the 3 March 2017. A total of 13,200 cigarettes were seized from a premises and a parked vehicle during this operation. To see the related press coverage on the seizure from the vehicle go to the Chronicle of the 10 March 2017.      

To see an article where HMRC officers can take enforcement action against an individual caught with illegal tobacco go to the Chronicle of the 23 March 2017.   

To see an article highlighting the current issues with illegal tobacco products in the North East go to the Chronicle of the 29 March 2017.    

To see two articles where HMRC officers have taken enforcement action against anyone caught with illegal tobacco go to the Chronicle of the 2 May 2017, the Chronicle of the 2 June 2017, the BBC News of the 26 June 2017 and the Chronicle of the 26 June 2017.  

To see an article where seizures of some 3,860 cigarettes and also 54 bottles of alcohol were seized from two premises in the west end of the city on the 28 June 2017 go to the Chronicle of the 4 July 2017. 

To see an article where a seizure of some 11,300 cigarettes and 21 packets of hand rolling tobacco were seized from a premises in the west end of the city go to the Chronicle of the 11 August 2017. 

On the 31 October 2017 and the 1 November 2017, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 retail premises and 2 residential premises across the city. In three of the retail premises and two of the residential premises some 98,240 illegal cigarettes and 23 KG's of HRT were seized by officers. To see various press articles related to the seizures of the cigarettes go to Tyne Tees TV of the 31 October 2017, Tyne Tees TV of the 6 November 2017 and the Chronicle of the 7 November 2017.  

To see an article where HMRC take enforcement action against individuals who are prepared to smuggle illegal tobacco into the UK go to the Chronicle of the 19 January 2018.    

On the 19 January 2018 on a visit to a retail premises, some 17,000 illegal cigarettes and 74 bottles of alcohol were found and seized from a motor vehicle parked next to a retail premises in the east of the city. To see a press article related to this seizure go to the Chronicle of the 31 January 2018.  

To see an article where Northumbria Police and HMRC have taken enforcement action against an an individual who is prepared to deal with illegal tobacco products go to the Chronicle of the 1 February 2018. 

To see the publicity around the visit of the BWY Canine "illegal tobacco unit" which visited Newcastle on the 24 and 25 April 2018 and where some 1000 illegal cigarettes were seized from a premises in the west end of the city, go to the City Council Newspage and YouTube.  

To see an article where HMRC have taken action against individuals dealing with illegal tobacco products go to the Chronicle of the 3 May 2018.

On the 20 June 2018, with the assistance of a tobacco sniffer dog team, visits were conducted to 7 retail premises across the city and in five of these premises some 20,000 cigarettes were seized by officers. To see a press article related to these seizures go to the Chronicle of the 20 June 2018.

On the 1 August 2018, some 32,860 illegal cigarettes and 8 Kg''s of HRT were seized from a residential premises in the city. To see the related press coverage on the seizure go to the Chronicle of the 2 August 2018.

To see an article where HMRC has taken action against individuals dealing with illegal tobacco products go to the Chronicle of the 22 August 2018 and the Chronicle of the 24 September 2018.  

During Opeartion Holly which was carried out in November 2018, some 16,000 illegal cigarettes and 0.5 Kg of HRT were taken from various premises in the city. To see the related press coverage go to the Chronicle of the 20 November 2018. 

Tobacco Consultation

HMRC have carried out a consultation on the proposed changes to, or the possible introduction of new sanctions which focus in particular on repeat offenders who deal in illegal tobacco.

This follows an informal targeted consultation which invited views on sanctions and other action to tackle illegal tobacco.

The consultation sought views on four potential additional sanctions which are:

  • increasing financial penalties for repeat offenders
  • a new civil penalty for dealing in illegal tobacco
  • reducing the threshold for the publication of details of people or companies that deliberately evade duty
  • statutory Duty of Care on landlords and landowners of properties or land

To see the full consultation as published by HMRC and which is now closed go to consultation  

To see the response to the consultation provided by the North East Trading Standards Association go to response (pdf 252 kb)    

To report any issue around illegal tobacco in Newcastle please phone the Consumer Advice Consumer service on 03454 040506 or contact us via E mail at tradingstandards@newcastle.gov.uk

For further information contact the Trading Standards Service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.
Phone: 0191 2116121
Email: tradingstandards@newcastle.gov.uk

Page last updated: 
20 November 2018
 
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