THOUSANDS of cigarettes and almost seven kilos of tobacco have been sniffed out from shops in Darlington.

Tobacco detection dogs Yoyo and Cooper, from BWY Canine Ltd, have been helping out Darlington Borough Council's trading standards.

They visited eight shops in Darlington on Tuesday as part of Operation CeCe.

Shaun Trevor, who led the operation on behalf of trading standards, said 24,200 cigarettes and 6.65kg of rolling tobacco were seized.

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He added: "In one shop products had been concealed in a chimney breast and by a shelving unit. An electronic opening and closing mechanism would reveal the cigarettes. In other shops, there were light fittings on magnets which when lowered revealed a ceiling void used to store these illegal goods."

The Northern Echo:

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, the council’s deputy leader, said:“Our trading standards team has worked very hard with partners to help keep these illegal products off our streets. The sale of illicit tobacco places smokers at even greater heath risk, as these products are not regulated in the same way as the brand they claim to be.

“The sale of these products directly funds organised crime, so it’s simply not possible to overstate the importance of this kind of work.

“We will continue our efforts to monitor and visit stores which sell illegal cigarettes and will use all available measures including prosecuting those responsible. You can help by reporting anything of concern to trading standards, anonymously if you wish.”

Tobacco in the UK must be sold in plain packaging, but trading standards officers are seeing counterfeit plain packaged tobacco entering the market, as well as more colourful packaging intended for non-UK markets.

Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. The National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC is playing a significant role in disrupting this illicit trade and is helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.”

Darlington trading standards team says it will continue to work closely with other agencies to tackle the sale and supply of illicit tobacco in the town.

Anyone with any information that can assist trading standards is asked to email or report it using the online form (this can be done anonymously) at

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