MORE than 9,000 illegal cigarettes and nearly 5,000 illegal vaping products have been found in North Worcestershire across April and May.

Over a five-day period, officers from Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards visited 18 premises in Kidderminster, Redditch, and Bromsgrove. 

A total of 9,112 cigarettes, 2.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco and 4,648 vapes were seized from various shops.

The cigarettes, a proportion of which are suspected to be counterfeits of popular brands could contain harmful substances and may not self-extinguish.

A number of illegal vapes were also seized delivering more puffs than permitted by UK law or failing to comply with strict labelling requirements. 

Dr Lisa McNally, director of public health for Worcestershire County Council said: “We know that the availability of cheap products makes it easier for young people to get hold of tobacco products and take up vaping and this is something we would never encourage, and that we are looking to really crack down on.

“We are working with our schools and other partners to explore the messages children receive about vaping.  

“Vapes can offer a powerful alternative to tobacco and can support adults wanting to give up smoking, but illegal vapes can contain higher than permitted levels of nicotine.

“There is a place for vaping products that fully comply with the law to help people to give up smoking.”

Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for communities at Worcestershire County Council said: “Our Trading Standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products from across the market place in Worcestershire and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law.”

The operation was led by Worcestershire Trading Standards assisted by West Mercia Police. 

The illicit haul of illegal tobacco was literally sniffed out by specially trained tobacco detection dogs from BWY Canine Ltd.