Monday, 24 June 2019

Dogs are key weapon in fight to stop tobacco smuggling

Dogs are key weapon in fight to stop tobacco smuggling

THREE sniffer dogs visited Henley on Saturday to promote a campaign against illegal tobacco by Oxfordshire trading standards officers.

Springer spaniels Yoyo, five, and Arthur, one, and 10-month-old cocker spaniel Maggie were at a stand in Falaise Square where members of the public could pat them.

The dogs’ sense of smell is so sensitive that they can locate a stash of illegal tobacco behind false walls or under floors.

Yoyo has helped seize more than £3 million worth of illegal tobacco in the last four years while Maggie is being trained to find banknotes. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs estimates that tobacco smuggling costs the Treasury about £2.5 billion in lost tax revenue every year.

It is often smuggled into Britain from the Far East or former Soviet nations in eastern Europe where it is made by forced labour.

Jody Kerman, operations manager at Oxfordshire Trading Standards, said that 50 grams of legitimate tobacco cost about £21 to £24 while the same amount of counterfeit tobacco cost £5 to £10.

He said: “We have been running a campaign against the availability of cheap and illegal tobacco. It keeps people smoking and it recruits the next generation of smokers.

“The smuggling is being committed by organised, career criminals. Do we really want that criminality in our communities? Do we want young people to come into contact with criminals in this way?

“We have taken on the challenge. The dogs are absolutely vital in finding the tobacco because of their sense of smell. You cannot hide from these dogs.”

Mr Kerman said a lot of the illegal purchases were made on the internet.

To report illegal tobacco, call 0333 666 4999.

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