MORE than 600 packets of illegal tobacco were seized during raids on retail premises by police and trading standards officers.

Officers used three sniffer dogs, named Ozzie, Indy and Patch, to uncover the massive haul from six shops in Accrington and Haslingden.

The swoops follow raids in Blackburn and Burnley and a total of 2,300 packs of illegal tobacco have been seized throughout Lancashire.

During the latest raids, contraband cigarettes, tobacco, tobacco blunts, cigar rolls and other tobacco products were seized after 12 retail premises were visited by Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards officers and police.

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

Bottles of suspected counterfeit Glens vodka were also seized.

The low price and easy availability of illegal tobacco encourages people to keep smoking, and children and young people are often targeted by unscrupulous traders. The sniffer dogs help to find tobacco which traders often conceal in unusual places such as hidden compartments.

County Coun Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We regularly act on intelligence received from the public.

“The success of this Lancashire-wide operation shows that even the smallest piece of intelligence can make all the difference. “It also demonstrates that more and more people are beginning to understand the serious threat that illegal tobacco poses to our communities and, just as tellingly, that fewer and fewer people are prepared to tolerate it.”

The sniffer dogs were provided by Wagtail UK Ltd and funded by Tobacco Free Lancashire.

The organisation is a partnership including healthcare professionals formed to help protect children and young people from the dangers caused by tobacco.