ice cream illegal tobacco

Criminals are using unlikely sources, such as ice cream vans, as fronts to distribute illicit tobacco, Imperial Tobacco has warned.

The manufacturer of leading brands, such as Lambert & Butler and Golden Virginia, has highlighted the issue in the latest instalment of its Suspect it? Report it! anti-illicit trade campaign.

It follows a raid on an ice cream van earlier this year in Country Durham, in which Trading Standards officers and police seized 4,560 cigarettes and 20.35kg of hand rolling tobacco along with a large amount of cash.

The tobacco had an estimated street value of more than £4,000.

Imperial Tobacco said the latest campaign poster illustrated how counterfeit product could be sold in the most seemingly unlikely of places.

It continued a “disturbing trend” of criminals targeting youngsters with illegal tobacco products, undermining the government’s youth access prevention programmes, the company said.

“Our message remains clear: if you’ve any suspicions regarding illegal tobacco activity, don’t be silent. Suspect it? Then protect your local community and Report it!”