Trained sniffer dogs uncover counterfeit cigarette smokescreen

It is an issue that is getting worse in the United Kingdom, but it seems that trained sniffer dogs are now helping to rectify the problem.

As more and more people sell counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco on the black market, big brands are losing out on profit and the Government misses out on tax. To tackle this crime, HM Revenue and Customs and Notts Trading Standards joined forces to raid five different premises on Wednesday, November 2. Joining them were Labradors Murphy and Ozzie, who are both trained sniffer dogs.

Handlers from Wagtail UK, which is a training specialist company, also joined the group on Wednesday and the outcome proved that two stores in the Ashfield district were selling counterfeit tobacco to customers. Duty had not been paid on 2.9 kg of rolling tobacco, 3,660 cigarettes and 52 bottles of wine, all of which were withdrawn from the premises. Before the trained sniffer dogs detected the counterfeits, customers were handing over their money to buy tobacco from what they thought were legitimate brands, such as Golden Virginia, Lambert and Butler and Mayfair.

Sarah Houlton, who is the trading standards manager for Notts Trading Standards said:

“It’s a team effort. The dog will search the shop and indicate if there is any tobacco that might be hidden and it’s up to trading standards and HM Revenue and Customs to physically find it.”

Although this was the first time the Notts Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs had worked alongside Wagtail sniffer dogs, the outcome has proved hopeful. The dogs were able to uncover counterfeit products in a Henry Hoover and beneath counters in a Gedling shop.