Trading standards raids uncover illegal cigarettes

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St Helens Council’s Trading Standards team has uncovered quantities of illegal counterfeit postage stamps, illicit alcohol and tobacco products, and also dangerous cigarette lighters being sold at off-licences and convenience stores across the borough.

Trading Standards Officers, accompanied by Merseyside Police and officials from the Royal Mail visited 17 retailers in a recent series of inspections, and found that illegal products were being sold at nine of them.

Specially trained tobacco sniffer dogs were used to discover illegal tobacco products. Among the haul of counterfeit goods were 76 packets of cigarettes, seized along with hundreds of potentially dangerous cigarette lighters. 810 copied postage stamps, with a value of £510.30, were also taken by officers from the Royal Mail.

The shops were targeted after undercover test purchase exercises revealed a number of premises across St Helens were selling fake postage stamps.

Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron, cabinet member for a Green, Smart and Sustainable Borough, said: “It is disappointing that more than half of the premises visited were found not to be complying with consumer protection laws.

“Not only can the sale of fake products be dangerous as people can be seriously harmed, but the responsible, law-abiding traders can be undermined and forced out of business. This recent action highlights just how important it is to have Trading Standards Officers out there protecting both consumers and honest businesses.”

If you wish to report someone selling fake goods you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, telephone the Citizen’s

Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk