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Third store closure in a month in illegal tobacco fight

Bags full of illegal cigarettes

A third store involved in the illegal tobacco trade in Middlesbrough has been closed down in less than a month.

The move is the latest success in a joint crackdown led by Middlesbrough Council’s Trading Standards team in partnership with HMRC.

The closure order against Bosc Vegas on Gresham Road is a further blow to the lethal trade.

Following numerous complaints, an operation by HMRC in May resulted in the seizure of 101,143 cigarettes and 40.40kg of hand rolling tobacco from the premises along with associated vehicles.

On Friday (August 5),Teesside Magistrates granted a three-month closure order, with costs of £738.50 also awarded to the Council.

The work formed part of Operation Cece, a national Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC which is playing a significant role in disrupting the illicit tobacco trade and taking illegal tobacco off the streets.

It is the third such closure that Middlesbrough Council’s Trading Standards team have obtained in the last month.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “This latest closure shows that Trading Standards will continue to work with other enforcement agencies and using all enforcement sanctions at our disposal to drive out the Illicit tobacco trade from Middlesbrough.”

Councillor David Coupe, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Adult Social Care and Public Protection, said: “Illicit tobacco is a bane on our society -  it increases health inequalities related to smoking, is the main source of cigarettes to young people and brings crime into our communities

“The Council will continue to take action to protect the health and wellbeing of Middlesbrough residents.”

Anyone with information on any business or residential premises in Middlesbrough selling illicit tobacco can report it to Trading Standards by calling 01642 728223 or by emailing  the Public Protection Service at EHTS@middlesbrough.gov.uk