EIGHTEEN reports of illegal tobacco being sold have been reported across Bury, a consumer campaign has revealed.

Trading standards has stepped up efforts to stamp out the black market across the borough with their Keep It Out initiative.

And this has prompted the seizures from shopkeepers and under-the-counter sellers between March and October this year.

Cllr Tahir Rafiq, cabinet member for corporate affairs and human resources at Bury Council, said: “Recent reports of illegal tobacco in Bury show that smuggled and often fake products continued to be sold during lockdown when overseas travel was restricted.

"This shows that, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just duty free being sold on the illegal tobacco market.

"These highly addictive tobacco products are being sold by organised crime gangs with links to human trafficking, loan sharking and the drugs trade.

"We are working to keep illegal tobacco out of local businesses and our community.”

Across the region there has been more than 100kg of hand-rolling tobacco and 1.7m cigarettes seized through similar crackdowns.