Aberdeen ,

Dogs help Trading Standards officers to sniff out illicit cigarettes

Thousands of illicit cigarettes have been uncovered by Trading Standards officers in Aberdeen with a little help from two specially-trained dogs.

Trading Standards officers worked in partnership with Police Scotland in an intelligence-led operation, which saw them visit a number of local retailers to find out if illicit tobacco was being sold on the premises.

Two spaniels, Daisy and Dixie, trained to sniff out tobacco, were used by Trading Standards officers during the search, which led to the recovery of 3,850 illicit cigarettes in one shop – 3,730 of which were found in a void behind a wall. Without the assistance of the dogs these cigarettes would not have been found.

During the search Dixie indicated that there was tobacco in a shelved area where stock was being stored. On closer inspection it was clear that there were marks on the shelf which indicated that it was regularly lifted. The stock was removed from the shelf and on lifting the shelf, which was in fact hinged, illicit tobacco was being hidden in a space behind the tiled wall.

The cigarettes included L&M Blue, Rothmans, Rothmans Royals Blue, Rothmans Royal Purple, and were not in plain packaging and the health warnings were not in English.

Graeme Paton, Trading Standards manager, Aberdeen City Council, said “This operation shows that Trading Standards will continue to take the necessary action to reduce the trade of illegal tobacco products in Aberdeen.

“The discovery of the illicit cigarettes which were concealed in a hidden area would not have been possible without the use of a tobacco detection dog. The sale of illicit tobacco products harms the interests of legitimate businesses. It also undermines the health measures put in place relating to health warnings and plain packaging.”

Anyone with any information regarding the supply of illicit tobacco or cigarettes should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or email tradingstandards@aberdeencity.gov.uk

Dixie and Daisy were provided by Consumer Protection Dogs, an organisation which works with various enforcement agencies including Trading Standards, the police and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Funding for use of the specially-trained dogs is provided by the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS).