ONE million illegal cigarettes with a street value of more than £200,000 have been seized across Wales this year as part of a major crackdown on the country’s illegal tobacco trade.

The milestone was hit by Welsh Trading Standards Teams taking part in Operation CeCe, a national initiative launched in January in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs.

In raids carried out across Wales, Trading Standards have seized 1,039,046 cigarettes and 3,377 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco – with a total street value of £286,782.30.


In January, Trading Standards raided two premises in Newport with a team of sniffer dogs looking for counterfeit tobacco products.

In total, 976 packets of cigarettes and 147 pouches of tobacco were unearthed across the two shops – on Commercial Road in Pill – worth £16,420.

At Eastern European Foods, Newport’s Trading Standards team seized 12,460 cigarettes and 2,800 grams of hand-rolling tobacco.

At Global Foods, a few doors away, the team seized an additional 7,060 cigarettes and 4,550 grams of tobacco.

Trading Standards has said that evidence of illegal tobacco supplies has been found in 17 out of 22 local authority areas in Wales and seizures have taken place in 12 areas so far.

Helen Picton, chairwoman of Trading Standards Wales, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco creates a cheap source for tobacco for children and young people.

“It also undermines all of the good work being done to stop people smoking and the illegal tobacco trade more often than not has strong links to criminal activity.”

In Wales, eight per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds smoke on a regular basis – a figure that has not fallen since 2013 – and around 6,000 children in Wales take up smoking every year.

“We need to keep tobacco out of the hands of children, cheap tobacco products make it easier for children to start smoking, as it is sold at pocket money prices by criminals who don’t care about age-restriction laws,” said Ms Picton.

Deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: “We are committed to stamping out the sale and use of illegal tobacco.

“Its availability makes it easier for children to start smoking, harder for those who want to stop smoking and brings criminality into local communities.

“Operation CeCe has led to the biggest crackdown on illegal tobacco in Wales since devolution.

“We support the ongoing work of HMRC and trading standards Wales. We will shortly be launching an illegal tobacco campaign to raise public awareness and encourage reporting of illegal tobacco.”

If you think that someone is selling illegal tobacco, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit