MORE illegal cigarettes were seized in County Durham in just one day than in the last 12 months during a series of raids this morning.

Trading Standards officers discovered 111,580 illegal cigarettes and 116kg of hand rolling tobacco in properties in Newton Aycliffe, Shildon, Fencehouses and Chester-le-Street.

Earlier this month, Durham County Council announced its consumer protection team had seized 94,040 illegal cigarettes and £41.8kg over the last year.

The latest raids, part of Operation Grouse, were in response to information received through the Keep It Out illicit tobacco campaign.

The haul, all of which is counterfeit or in breach of other regulations, has an estimated value of between £35,00 and £40,000.

In addition, over £7,500 in cash was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Trading Standards officers were joined by members of Durham Special Constabulary on the operation, and several individuals remain under investigation.

Owen Cleugh, consumer protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “Residents can be reassured that our trading standards teams are proactive in the enforcement of issues related to the trade in illegal tobacco.

“Illegal tobacco affects communities on many levels. The availability of cheap tobacco products frustrates stop-smoking services, makes it easier for children to start smoking, and brings crime into our neighbourhoods.

“Sellers of illegal tobacco can face imprisonment, as well as having their assets confiscated in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act.

“We would like to thank the public for their support in the Keep It Out campaign, and would urge residents to report information about illegal tobacco in their neighbourhoods using the Illegal Tobacco Hotline.”

The public can report illegal tobacco sales anonymously by calling 0300-999-0000 or by visiting

For information and advice on how to quit smoking, visit