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Thousands of illegal vapes and illicit tobacco products seized in Ely

14 May 2024

Over 4,000 illegal vapes have been seized from 2 shops in Ely in a multi-agency operation involving Trading Standards, Cambridgeshire Police and HMRC.

One shop was found to have 1,340 illegal vapes along with 23,280 illicit cigarettes and 4.65 Kilos of hand rolling tobacco, the other shop was found to have 2,810 illegal vapes. Criminal investigations have commenced.

The operation follows an influx of intelligence from concerned members of the public to the Police and Trading Standards, and is part of 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 how these products are displayed and strict limits on flavouring to make them less appealing to children.

Peter Gell, Service Director for Regulatory Services at Cambridgeshire County Council 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 and local law-abiding businesses 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.”

Mat Lupton-Pike, East Cambridgeshire Neighbourhood Sergeant added: “We work to keep our communities safe from harm, and illicit cigarettes, vapes and tobacco pose a serious risk to health as well as fuel funding for other related criminal activity.

“Collaboration with agencies like this is all part of the ongoing work our neighbourhood policing teams do day in, day out, in response to concerns from the local community.

“We ask the public to continue to report any information or concerns to us. The more information we have, the better picture we can build and the more efficient we can be at targeting those causing harm to our communities.”

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.