An ongoing operation to combat the sale of illegal tobacco across the county has made seizures in North Staffordshire. Officers from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service raided four premises, including one in Leek and three in Newcastle under Lyme. The seizures included 31,090 illegal cigarettes and 12.85kg illegal hand rolling tobacco. The haul, with an estimated street value of £7631.50 was made in March. Trading Standards officers were supported by Staffordshire Police and officers with specially trained dogs from BWY Canine in the raids, which also uncovered 19 litres of illegal alcohol. The seizures were made as part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC, to tackle illegal tobacco. Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Manager, Tony Shore said: “The sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco is a crime which damages our communities and harms legitimate businesses. “These latest raids show that we take the issue very seriously and will target our resources where we know the sale of illegal and sometimes dangerous tobacco and alcohol is going on. “All tobacco is harmful but illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking and get hooked. Sellers also rarely care who they sell to. “People can help us make a real difference in getting illegal tobacco off the streets, so I would encourage anyone with information to get in touch with us.” In the UK, it is estimated that about 1 in 10 of all cigarettes and half of all hand-rolling tobacco are not duty paid. The illegal trade in tobacco also has strong links to organised crime and illicit tobacco can have a devastating effect on health.” Over the last two years, Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards have uncovered over three million illegal cigarettes and almost 200kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco with an estimated street value of £1,026,476. Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes in Staffordshire should call the Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356.