More than £2.4 million of illicit tobacco products was seized across Nottinghamshire by the County Council’s trading standards officers in 2017-18 – an eight-fold increase on the previous year.
A total of 45 seizures took place over this period – which covers April 2017 to the end of March 2018 – which amounted to 124,000 cigarettes and 120,000 tobacco pouches of hand rolling tobacco weighing more than six tonnes.
The increase in value of the tobacco products seized comes mainly from the larger number of tobacco pouches found, which amounted to 4,000 pouches the previous year.
A large amount of the hand-rolling tobacco was seized from two illegal manufacturing plants uncovered in the county.
During this period 44 prosecutions took place which resulted in prison sentences totalling 12.5 years, 1,165 hours in community service orders and £920 in fines.
Coun Gordon Wheeler, vice-chairman of the council’s communities and place committee, said: “Whilst the number of illicit cigarettes we’ve seized has been consistent in recent years, we’ve had great success in finding two manufacturing plants in the county which has prevented huge quantities of illicit products coming on to the market.
“Improving intelligence and widening the search to suppliers along with shops is also proving very fruitful.
Genuine cigarettes are designed to extinguish if left unattended – counterfeit cigarettes do not have the safety feature and so continue to burn, causing a fire risk.
It is estimated that smoking-related fires in the county cost £2.86 million each year.