Southend Trading Standards seize illegal cigarettes, tobacco, and vapes

Southend-on-Sea City Council’s Trading Standards, in collaboration with HMRC and Essex Police, have conducted a series of successful raids on retail premises along Southchurch Road, Southend.

The operation resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of illegal cigarettes, tobacco, and non-compliant disposable vape pens.

A total of 35,000 cigarettes and 19kg of hand-rolling tobacco were confiscated. These illicit products, often counterfeit, pose a greater health risk than legitimate ones due to the presence of harmful substances and the evasion of UK duties.

Additionally, officers seized illegal disposable vape pens valued at over £20,000. Some of these products falsely advertised a capacity of up to 15,000 puffs. According to UK regulations, any vape pen claiming more than 600 puffs is likely non-compliant, exceeding legal limits on nicotine strength and tank size. Alarmingly, these dangerous products have been sold to children.

Alan Richards, executive director for environment and place, said: “Irresponsible businesses selling these items are not only jeopardising public health but are also often linked to organised crime. We will continue to use all available powers to remove these harmful products and take formal action against the offenders.”

All seized items, including disposable vapes, illegal cigarettes, and tobacco, will be destroyed through environmentally friendly processes.