Four men involved in the sale of fake tobacco in Worthing have been sentenced to 200 hours community service and ordered to pay more than £4,000.
They came to the attention of West Sussex Trading Standards when Scamp the sniffer dog helped officers find illicit tobacco and cigarettes at a shop in Montague Street, Worthing.
Jamal Hassan who owned the shop at the time, and three others involved, Shamal Namiq, Karim Esmail, Borhan Abdulrahman, were sentenced at Worthing Magistrates Court.
Trading Standards officers visited the shop on November 6, 2017 with trained sniffer dog Scamp.
They discovered 185 tobacco pouches and 231 cigarette packets concealed, some were concealed in a wall in the stock room.
Officers returned to the shop on December 7, 2017, and discovered an employee leaving the shop with a holdall filled with illicit tobacco. They later searched his home address and found more cigarette packets.
Samples were found to be either unsafe, foreign labelled, not carrying the correct warnings, or counterfeit.
Richard Sargeant, Trading Standards team manager, said: “Cheap, illegal tobacco products may seem like an attractive option for customers but they also carry increased risks.
“They often do not self-extinguish and are therefore more likely to cause fires.
“Anyone concerned about the sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or can report details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport.”
Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “Selling fake tobacco is a serious crime that will not be tolerated in West Sussex. Anyone tempted to conduct this type of illegal activity should be warned that Scamp, along with Trading Standards officers, will sniff you out.”