A MAJOR haul of suspected illegal cigarettes were sniffed out in a West Berkshire shop – thanks to man’s best friend.

Cooper the specially trained search dog assisted trading standards officers to inspect corner shops across Bracknell, West Berkshire and Wokingham for illegal tobacco.

Cooper led the Public Protection Partnership team to a stock of suspected illegal tobacco in a West Berkshire business.

Suspected illegal cigarettes and suspected illegal hand rolling tobacco was seized and an investigation has been launched by Trading Standards Officers.

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The visits were carried out as part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.

More than five million illegal cigarettes have already been seized from retail outlets across England and Wales in the first six months of this year as part of Operation CeCe.

The haul of illicit products also includes more than 1,700kg of hand rolled tobacco and 66kg of shisha. In total, more than £2.7 million pounds worth of illegal tobacco products have been taken off streets since the operation launched in January 2021.

Hillary Cole, portfolio member for Housing, Strategic Partnerships and Transformation said: “Illicit tobacco not only deprives the country of the duty that pays for services but undermines health policy.

"The trading standards team are at the forefront of tobacco control measures whether it be under age sales, illicit tobacco, counterfeit tobacco or labelling and marketing controls. In addition they work with colleagues from our public health team to run a comprehensive tobacco harm reduction programme with adults and in schools".