SNIFFER dogs helped to uncover large amounts of illegal tobacco during raids on shops.

A total of 857 packs of contraband cigarettes, 128 packets of tobacco, 248 tobacco blunts and cigar rolls, were seized after checks at 48 premises in Burnley, Nelson, Accrington, Oswaldtwistle and Rawtenstall.

Colne and Haslingden were also targeted, but nothing was found.

The raids were a combined operation by Lancashire County Council trading standards, Lancashire Police, and district licensing officers, who were join- ed by two sniffer dogs.

Dogs help find tobacco which traders conceal in places such as hidden compartments, and cash machines.

The raids took place over four days, with illicit tobacco being found in 13 premises.

County Coun Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection, said: “We regularly act on intelligence received from the public, and the success of this operation shows even the smallest piece of intelligence can make all the difference.

“It also demonstrates that more people are beginning to understand the serious threat illegal tobacco poses to our communities, and that fewer people are prepared to tolerate it.”

Also seized were 68 packs of unlicensed, unsafely stored fire- works, and a number of non-compliant lasers, toys, air fresheners, e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

The large haul included counterfeit and non-duty-paid tobacco products, which cannot be legally sold in the UK.

Chief Inspector Julian Platt said: “This series of raids have undoubtedly helped to take a range of illegal and potentially very harmful products off the streets of East Lancashire, thus protecting our residents.”

Last year, a survey by the Tob- acco Retailers’ Alliance found just over one in seven corner shops in the North West was facing financial problems due to lost sales from tobacco smugg-ling and cross-border shopping.