Sniffer dogs rooted out more than 20,000 illicit cigarettes from four shops in Lincoln in a raid earlier this month.

The cigarettes, predominantly cheap white Jin Lings, were all found in secret concealed compartments.

The raid was intelligence led, demonstrating that the authorities acted upon information they received, Lincolnshire County Council’s senior trading standards officer Emma Milligan said.

“We will act upon what people tell us. We hope it will also demonstrate to the local traders that we will not stand for this activity in Lincolnshire and where we have the necessary information we will respond robustly.

 “Jin Lings are particularly worrying to us, as they are not made to the correct legislative standards. As well as this, we believe that this type of cigarette caused a local house fire in Spalding in which one person died.

“Local businesses are also suffering as they unable to compete with the cheaper prices of these illicit products,” Milligan added.

The cigarettes have been sent for safety testing, and investigations into all four cases are continuing.