Trading Standards sniff out tobacco crime in Fife

Dixie, a tobacco detection dog.
Dixie, a tobacco detection dog.

Trading Standards has once again unleashed Dixie, a tobacco detection dog to help combat the counterfeit and illicit goods trade in Fife.

Its Intellectual Property Enforcement Group has been working with officers from HMRC and inspected 28 premises across Fife for counterfeit and illicit tobacco and alcohol.

Dawn Adamson, Trading Standards service manager, said: “Dixie has been trained by Consumer Protection Dogs to sniff out tobacco products. She is a valuable asset as she can find concealed stashes in areas of the premise not easily accessible to officers.”

Quantities of tobacco suspected to be illegal were seized by officers for inspection and based on the findings, appropriate action will be taken by the relevant agency.

Dawn continued: “Counterfeit tobacco products are illegal and retailers must ensure that they do not sell them. To ensure their products are genuine, retailers should only purchase their stock from UK manufacturers or established reputable wholesalers.

“Counterfeit cigarettes are not manufactured in a regulated environment and they’re unlikely to adhere to the rigorous standards set down by the UK Government for levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. They’ve also been found to contain ingredients like dead insects, beetle eggs and rat droppings”.

In addition, a quantity of suspected illegal alcohol was recovered by HMRC.

Cheryl Burr, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK £2.4 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1 billion per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

People can report any suspected counterfeiting activity in Fife to the team by visting the website at www.fifedirect.org.uk/tradingstandards.

Consumer advice is also available from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506 or by logging onto www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland.