Sniffer dog has a nose for illicit tobacco
The council’s trading standards officers are often required to follow their nose as they sniff out rogue traders across Central Bedfordshire.
But the team had some help during a recent operation – in the form of a sniffer dog.
The operation, involving Central Beds, Bedfordshire Police, HMRC and Wagtail (which provided the sniffer dog Duster) targeted five shops across Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Biggleswade suspected of selling illicit cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Thanks to the help of Duster’s keen nose, three shops were found to be selling illicit tobacco products. In total, 402 packets of cigarettes and 81 tobacco pouches were discovered.
It was the first time that a sniffer dog had been used as part of an operation to target people selling illicit tobacco across Central Bedfordshire.
Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Using the dog was a great success as it was able to get into much smaller and tighter spaces than a human could. That allowed the team to find illicit tobacco products hidden in places like a mop bucket, plastic bags tucked under shelves and cupboards in a store room.
“People that sell cheap cigarettes and tobacco target underage children to make an easy profit. This makes it too easy for our children to smoke and become addicted.
“Illicit tobacco usually has no picture warnings or tar and nicotine content and it is not regulated. So, it may contain higher levels of nicotine and more harmful mixes of chemicals than conventional tobacco products.
“I would urge anyone who suspects that somewhere is selling illicit tobacco to let us know your concerns.”