February 24, 2023
Almost £100,000 worth of illegal vapes and cigarettes have been seized in Darlington following the latest joint operation by trading standards and police.
Darlington Borough Council and Durham Police have launched Operation Automn last month in response to the complaints about the sale of vapes to children, some as young as 12, and the supply of over-strength vapes in Darlington.
Several days of action have resulted in seizures of illegal over-strength vapes and/or illegal cigarettes, and the total value of seized goods so far is almost £100,000.
Following the previous day of action, seizures of illegal vapes have been made in Darlington from Neasham Road Mini Market; Magic Vape on Tubwell Row; Cloud Collaborative on King Street; Darlo Phone Repair on Skinnergate and Dima Mini Market on North Road.
Suspected counterfeit or illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco have also been seized from Neasham Road Mini Market and associated addresses; Dima Mini Market on North Road; Easy Shop on Victoria Road and S V Mini Market on Gladstone Street.
This operation has so far removed 4,802 illegal vapes from sale, ranging from 2,500 puffs to 10,000. A 3,500 puff vape is approximately equivalent to smoking 280 cigarettes. In addition, 112,540 illegal cigarettes and 36.75kg of hand-rolling tobacco were also seized.
The premises were all visited following complaints from members of the public. All retailers were given advice on the law, particularly in relation to underage sales, and reminded of their obligations.
Shaun Trevor, who led the operation on behalf of trading standards, said: “If you sell illegal vapes or cigarettes, especially to children, then expect a visit from us.
“We would encourage residents to report any concerns about any suspected illegal products. We take complaints seriously and will investigate them all and take action where appropriate. We have further action planned in order to stem the flow of these illegal products in Darlington.”
Councillor Mike Renton, the council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, added: “This trade in illegal goods not only harms our communities but also businesses who are complying with the law and finding that they can’t compete with nearby stores selling illegal goods at pocket money prices.
“We will continue our efforts to monitor and visit stores which sell illegal products and don’t comply with age restrictions, and will use all available measures including prosecuting those responsible to put a stop to this trade.”
Inspector Peter Newman, from Durham Constabulary, said: “Illicit and dangerous tobacco can not only cause serious harm to people’s health, but the proceeds are often invested into organised crime and can help fund more serious offences.
“If you have information regarding potential criminality in your community, please report it to us.”