TRADING standards officers have seized illicit tobacco worth £15,000 in raids on premises across the borough.

Acting on tip-offs and accompanied by GMP police officers, 13 premises were visited on Mondya, December 7.

The teams used sniffer dogs from tobacco detection company Wagtails UK to help them.

In total they seized 8kg of hand-rolling tobacco and 21,000 cigarettes, some of which were counterfeit, some were non-duty paid and others labelled incorrectly.

Illicit tobacco was found at seven of the shops visited: two in Radcliffe and five in Bury, and three of them were licensed premises.

Angela Lomax, head of public protection at Bury Council, said: “Cigarette and tobacco smugglers cheat the country of revenue vital to funding essential public services like hospitals and schools. Smuggling also has a devastating impact on honest retailers forced to compete with the shadow economy in these hard times. People selling illegal tobacco also don’t care about what effects their products may have on your health - all they care about is profit.”

Ms Lomax said that enforcement action will be taken against those who break the law which could include prosecution through the courts or a review of shop licences if they sell alcohol.

Councillor Jane Black, cabinet member for the cultural economy, said: “We know everyone wants a bargain, but buying dodgy cigarettes and tobacco only helps to fund criminals and could actually be dangerous. The message is simple: buying under-the-counter cheap cigarettes and tobacco from shops or on social media isn’t a bargain, it means trading with criminals, and we all should be supporting honest decent businesses during these difficult times.”