SNIFFER dogs helped to discover large amounts of illegal tobacco in raids carried out by Lancashire County Council trading standards.

More than 1,200 packs of suspected contraband cigarettes, tobacco and tobacco blunts were seized, with the help of sniffer dogs, from 35 shops in Rossendale, Burnley, Nelson and Colne.

It comes as research revealed more than a third of discarded cigarette packs found in Blackburn are either illegal or purchased outside the UK.


A survey by MSIntelligence concluded that Blackburn had the 12th highest non-domestic rate in the country. The data showed that 22 per cent of packs in the North West were bootlegged, smuggled or counterfeit.

Experts said the illegal cigarettes could be more dangerous than legitimate products and help to fund crime.

And the low price and easy availability of illegal tobacco encourages people to keep smoking, with children and young people often being targeted by unscrupulous traders.

Will O’Reilly, a former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector who carries out research on the illicit trade, said: “This research supports my own test purchase work, where we have found illicit tobacco year on year easier to find on sale in the UK.

“Very worrying is the huge growth in illicit whites, unregulated cigarettes made predominately for smuggling. These are not brought back by visitors abroad but smuggled in by the container load by organised crime and terrorist groups.”

There are four main types of illegal cigarettes — smuggled, counterfeit, those that evade tax by not being declared, and illicit whites.