Black market tobacco worth £5,000 has been seized in Hounslow after raids across the borough.

The haul of illicit goods included 6,700 cigarettes, 350 grams of hand-rolling tobacco and 615 pouches of chewing tobacco, which is banned in the UK.

A series of road shows organised by Hounslow Council's trading standards team in March had highlighted the dangers of duty-evaded, counterfeit and illegally produced tobacco.

Officers subsequently swooped on 10 premises, finding illicit tobacco at four - three of which were visited following tip-offs from members of the public who had visited one of the road shows.

The council said the forbidden stashes were seized and the owners of all four premises had been issued with a formal caution.

Councillor Sue Sampson, Hounslow Council's cabinet member for community protection, said: "The dangers associated with smoking are no secret but not many people know how much worse illicit tobacco can be.

"I thank those who came forward to report those who want to gamble with the health of our residents in order to make a quick profit."

Hounslow Council's trading standards team had joined forces with BWY Canine, specialist sniffer dogs, the council police team and public health officers to snuff out illicit tobacco.

Tell-tale signs of black market tobacco

  • Packs without pictorial health warnings
  • Poor detailing such as poor print, spelling errors, inconsistent lettering
  • Packs without domestic tax stamps or security marks
  • Packs with non-domestic tax stamps
  • Unusual taste
  • Unusually cheap

On May 20, new regulations for the sale of tobacco came into force, including a ban on packs of 10 cigarettes and stricter rules on packaging, with companies given one year to sell stock produced before the new rules took effect.

In March, getwestlondon reported how more than £2,000 worth of tobacco was seized following checks on shops in Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham.

In May, we revealed how nearly 2,000 counterfeit cigarettes had been found buried beneath a shop in Kensington and Chelsea.

Anyone who knows of illicit tobacco being sold in Hounslow is asked to email with details.