Being able to buy smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco in Oxfordshire shops may be a thing of the past.

That is the view of Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team, encouraged by the success of its stop illegal tobacco campaign as it nears the fourth anniversary of its launch.

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During that period, the team has completed 37 successful covert test purchases and made 36 separate seizures of illegal-tobacco products.

A total of 94,480 illegal cigarettes, 16,750 grams of illegal hand rolling tobacco and 115,220 grams of illegal shisha tobacco have been seized.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “These are tremendous successes in our quest to remove illegal tobacco from shops and streets. We know the vast majority of retailers are honest and only sell legitimate products, and we thank them for their support.

“The aim is to reduce overall prevalence of smoking to less than one in 20 people by 2025 and, in doing so, achieve our vision to inspire the first smoke free generation in Oxfordshire. But we won’t be sitting on our hands – the team will continue to do periodic spot checks using sniffer dogs, as we turn our focus to other methods of supply, including online and through social media.”

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Trading standards made 16 successful prosecutions with more than £21,000 in prosecution costs awarded and £95,000 in confiscation orders.

A total of 66 custodial sentences were made and the team also brought five licence reviews.

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