Nearly 15,000 cigarettes and more than nine kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco have been seized by Warwickshire Police and Border Force, following raids on stores carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s trading standards service.

Tobacco sniffer dogs were used to search for counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes and tobacco being sold at convenience stores, mini supermarkets and parked vehicles in Atherstone, Nuneaton, Rugby, Leamington Spa and Stratford upon Avon.

Officers used local intelligence to identify stores where cheap illegal cigarettes were being sold.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “The sellers of cheap illegal cigarettes don’t care who they sell to, making it easier for children and young people to obtain cigarettes and get hooked on smoking and making it harder for adults to quit.

“Cheap illegal tobacco also threatens the livelihoods of honest genuine businesses and robs the taxpayer of money that could be spent on schools and hospitals.”

Investigations into the illicit topbacco found during the raids are still ongoing. Warwickshire County Council has called for anyone with information about the manufacture or sale of illegal tobacco to call the confidential fakes hotline on 0300 303 2636.