A North East corner shop has been shut down after being caught selling illegal tobacco products.

The ‘Supermarket’ corner shop at 31 Market Place in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough was found with 6,600 illegal cigarettes and 4.5kg of rolling tobacco during a raid in September.

And when trading standards officers visited the shop last Friday (November 11)  to give notice of intention to apply for a closure order, they found and seized another 36 packets of illegal tabs and another 250g of rolling tobacco.

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The convenience store has now been shut down for at least three months after the seizures.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Illicit tobacco is harmful to our local communities as it reduces the impact of health improvement measures designed to reduce the prevalence of smoking and reduce health inequalities, and it brings crime into neighbourhoods. 

“There was clear evidence of ongoing illegal activity at 31 Market Place, which highlights why the closure of the property was necessary.

“We will continue to investigate and take action against individuals and businesses involved in selling illicit tobacco and this will include seeking closure orders to stop business premises being used to support this crime.”

The crackdown on illicit tobacco is part of a joint drive between the council’s trading standards and HMRC, named Operation Cece.

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Councillor David Coupe, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Adult Social Care and Public Protection, added: “We strive to make Middlesbrough a healthy town, a safe place to live and a place where legitimate businesses can thrive.

“The Council’s Public Protection Service and its Trading Standards team continue to protect the interest of local people and ensure lawful and fair-trading practices.

“This latest closure order will keep the premises closed for at least three months to stop it being used for criminal purposes and prevent nuisance to local residents and businesses.”

Anyone with information about illicit tobacco being supplied in Middlesbrough is being asked to call trading standards on 01642 728223 or email EHTS@middlesbrough.gov.uk.

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