Thousands of illegal cigarettes and vapes discovered behind 'secret' wall at Rugby shop

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A shop in Rugby has been closed down after illegal cigarettes and vapes were discovered behind a false wall.

Trading Standards Officers visited the shop on four separate occasions in 2023 and 2024 and seized 30,340 cigarettes, 219 packs of hand rolling tobacco and 468 vapes.

Some of the illegal products had been stored in a specially-constructed, electronically-operated secret concealment, hidden in a false wall.

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Trading Standards then approached the shop’s landlord, who worked with Officers to have the business evicted from the premise and the shop closed.

Some of the stash recovered.Some of the stash recovered.
Some of the stash recovered.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “The sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco undermines the efforts being made to reduce smoking rates by making it easier for children to get their hands on these products and harder for people to quit and remain smoke free.

“Working with local landlords to close these shops is one of the ways in which we are tackling this issue and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the landlord in this case for his support.”

The cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco seized was either counterfeit, or non-duty paid imports that were not in plain packaging and did not have the correct labelling/health warnings for the UK market. The vapes were oversized, containing too much nicotine.

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Trading Standards Officers worked in partnership with and were supported by Warwickshire Police and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service. The latter were alerted when people were found to be living illegally in offices above the shop.

Report the sale of illegal cigarettes, tobacco and vapes to Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.