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Hundreds of illegal vapes and illicit tobacco products seized

27 March 2024

A criminal investigation has begun after almost 1,000 illegal vapes and 1,500 illicit cigarettes were seized from a shop in Ramsey on Wednesday 20 March.

Officers from Trading Standards, Cambridgeshire Police and HMRC attended the shop following an influx of intelligence from concerned members of the public.

This was part of an ongoing multi-agency enforcement across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to tackle the supply of illegal tobacco and nicotine products.

In 2023, Trading Standards seized 8,801 vapes, over 26,000 illicit cigarettes and 38 packs of hand rolling tobacco in Cambridgeshire.

Issues include vapes with tank sizes that are illegal in the UK due to the quantities of liquid they contain, vapes that wrongly state they contain no nicotine, and cigarettes in packaging that does not comply with UK requirements on labelling and imagery. HMRC offences relate to non-duty paid tobacco products.

It comes as the Government has announced proposals to ban disposable vapes and ensure vapes conform to plainer packaging requirements, tighter restrictions on display and strict limits on flavouring to make them less child appealing.

Jacqui Harvey, Head of Operations for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards said: “These ongoing, targeted enforcement operations send a clear message to the shops that supply these products and the organised crime gangs behind these crimes that the sale of illegal tobacco and nicotine products won’t be tolerated in Cambridgeshire, and we are committed to taking a hard line with anyone we uncover perpetrating these crimes.

“The level of intelligence we receive from the public is also indicative of local feeling towards these crimes. They don’t want these crimes being committed in their local communities, and we will continue to tackle it on their behalf.”

Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of the Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “I’m proud of the Ramsey community who sought to protect the town by reporting concerns about potential illegal activity.

“Laws on vaping and smoking are put in place to protect users from harm and as we look to create a more caring Cambridgeshire, we will not hesitate to investigate reports like this.”

Anyone wishing to share intelligence or suspicions about criminal activity like this can report it online, anonymously at:

Alternatively, Trading Standard’s advice partner, the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, can be contacted on 0808 223 1133 Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.