Detector dogs help Trading Standards sniff out fake tobacco

Large quantities of suspected illicit tobacco products were seized from three local high street premises by Fife Council’s TradingSeized illegal tobacco products Standards Team during a recent intelligence led operation.

The multi-agency exercise, which included assistance from detection dogs provided by Consumer Protection Dogs UK, resulted in a total of 6,640 cigarettes and 2.65 kilograms of hand rolling tobacco being taken by Trading Standards Enforcement Officers on suspicion of being counterfeit. A further eight fixed penalty notices were also issued to traders under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, for offences such as not being registered to sell tobacco products, lack of signage and not having an age verification policy in place.

Illegal tobacco products cause significant risk to public health and safety. They are often produced in extremely unhygienic conditions and can be contaminated with toxic elements such as arsenic and lead. They can also contain vastly excessive levels of tar and nicotine.

As the fake tobacco market is unregulated there is no control over what materials are used to pack out the items, and substances such as rat poison, asbestos, and even human and animal faeces have often been found in them. Counterfeit cigarettes also present an even bigger fire risk than the genuine articles as they generally will not have a self-extinguishing capability.Sniffer dog sits next to illegal tobacco products

Dawn Adamson, Fife Council Trading Standards Manager, said: “This great work by our officers, who had invaluable assistance from the detection dogs Boo and Rosie, has removed a significant amount of potentially dangerous tobacco products from our community.

“As well as the potential health and safety risks of smoking fake tobacco I’d also like to remind the public that although the sale of these products are normally carried out by small time operators, the illegal tobacco trade often involves serious organised crime gangs at the top end of the supply chain.

“We are always grateful to the public for any information they have regarding the sale of illicit tobacco, and I would encourage anyone who knows anything to report it directly to us in confidence at or by using the anonymous reporting page on the ‘Illegal Tobacco-Keep it Out’ website

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