Illicit tobacco and counterfeit goods seized at Maidstone shops
Main article content
Businesses suspected of selling illicit tobacco, vapes and counterfeit goods have been inspected in a joint operation by KCC Trading Standards and the Maidstone Town Centre Task Force.
On Wednesday 17 August 2022, four town centre shops were targeted in Week Street, Lower Stone Street and Knightrider Street.
Total seizures included more than 15,000 cigarettes, almost seven kilos of rolling tobacco and 1,025 vapes. Some of the items had been concealed and in one location a large quantity of tobacco was recovered from bins at the rear of the premises.
KCCs' Principal Trading Standard’s Officer Oliver Jewell said: 'Trading Standards have been working with local retailers to advise on disposable vape devices but have identified a small number of retailers who continue to sell illegal vapes. These have not been subject to the strict safety measures we have to ensure that these products are as safe as can be established as an alternative to smoking. 'Illegal tobacco brings crime into your neighbourhood and is affordable for young people and for those who would otherwise use price as an incentive to quit smoking. 'We will continue to work with partner agencies to target shops who persistently sell either product and consider all means at our disposal to ensure a safe high street.'
The teams were also alert for counterfeit goods and from one of the businesses, officers recovered more than 1,300 items including phone accessories, watches, jewellery and clothing.
Inspector Dave Crompton, of the Maidstone Community Safety Unit, said: ‘As part of our ongoing enforcement against organised criminal groups, my officers regularly work with Trading Standards teams to identify businesses which might be involved in illegal activity, such as money laundering and human trafficking. ‘We also target those premises selling illicit tobacco and counterfeit goods as they often attract anti-social behaviour and other criminal activity. The businesses also have a detrimental impact on legitimate local traders and our inspections will continue while the Trading Standards investigation is underway.’
Shops selling illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously through 0300 999 6 999 or by following this link.