A Norton store which reportedly sold counterfeit and illegal cigarettes to children has been shut down. 

The Norton Shop, on Norton Road, in Stockton, will be closed for three months after Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council secured a closure order notice at Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (December 6).

As well as reports of sales made to children, the Court heard how a packet of cigarettes could be bought from the shop for £5, well below the average cost.

The packets had no identification numbers and were not in plain standardised packaging as required by The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.

Some of the packets were also missing the required health warnings.

Councillor Norma Stephenson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “This is a brilliant result, especially as this case was particularly concerning given the reports that these illicit cigarettes were being sold to children.

"I would like to pass on my thanks to our Trading Standards officers, who have worked diligently alongside Cleveland Police and HMRC to help secure this closure.

“The closure order demonstrates once again how we take a zero tolerance approach to the sale of counterfeit and illegal cigarettes and will bring forward action against businesses who don’t follow the rules.

“Of course, I'd also encourage residents to report any sales of illicit tobacco to us so we can take the necessary action. Our Trading Standards team can be reached by calling 01642 526560 or emailing trading.standards@stockton.gov.uk.”

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Chief Inspector Dan Heron from Stockton’s Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “Illegal tobacco causes real harm to our communities – both to underage people purchasing the goods and indeed the effect on legitimate businesses.

“We know illegal tobacco can be used to directly fund organised crime and through this partnership working, we are protecting people and cutting off the income stream to criminals.”

This work was carried out as part of Operation Cece, which is run in partnership with the National Trading Standards and HMRC to help tackle the sales of illicit tobacco.