A tobacco detection dog helped sniff out almost 79,000 illegal cigarettes and over a kilo of tobacco during a two-day operation.

The specially trained dog accompanied Hertfordshire County Council’s trading standards officers who carried out inspections across the county to identify and disrupt the supply of illegal tobacco.

During the operation targeting areas including Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Borehamwood and Stevenage, the dog helped to locate counterfeit tobacco products concealed at various premises.

Acting on prior intelligence, the biggest haul was uncovered in Stevenage, with the support of Hertfordshire Police, after officers targeted retail premises and a vehicle.

A total of 972 cigarettes were seized from a retail premises and a further 64,761 cigarettes and 223 pouches of hand rolling tobacco were uncovered from the vehicle.

The Hertfordshire-wide initiative took place under Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards campaign in partnership with HMRC, to tackle illegal tobacco.

The seized products will now be fully assessed to determine the exact offences that have been committed. Enquiries and investigations are now ongoing.  

Andrew Butler, Assistant Director of Community Protection, said: “This successful operation is part of our ongoing strategy to tackle the sale of illegal tobacco.

“Not only do those involved in the distribution of illegal tobacco undermine legitimate businesses, they also encourage people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source.

“This campaign should send out a clear warning to shopkeepers that we will take action to stop illicit trading of this nature. Any business owners who are unclear about the law should contact us for advice.”