Crackdown on Under-age and Illicit Alcohol and Tobacco Sales

Date Released - 02/11/2022

TRADING Standards are taking action against Tameside businesses for under-age and illicit alcohol and tobacco sales.

Tameside Council officers, working with Greater Manchester Police, recently carried out an operation targeting premises where intelligence from members of the public suggested they were selling age restricted products to under 18s and/or selling illicit tobacco.

The under-age sales exercise – which involved two volunteers under the age of 18 carrying out test purchases of tobacco, alcohol and e-cigarettes – targeted 19 Tameside businesses, of which an alarming eight breached restrictions by selling the items to the young people.

The exercise in relation to illicit tobacco targeted 14 premises. With the assistance of sniffer dogs and handlers from Wagtail UK, quantities of illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco were seized, some of which had been concealed in “secret” compartments inside the shops.

These seizures included items that had been illegally smuggled into the country without the full UK excise duty being paid, items suspected of being counterfeit and also items in breach of labelling laws and without the required health warnings. Large quantities of non-compliant e-cigarettes were also seized.

The premises targeted are known to sell these items for considerably cheaper prices than genuine tobacco products, which suggests that their aim is to promote the supply of tobacco to customers for which genuine (fully taxed) products may be unaffordable, including children under 18.

The council is in the process of pursuing enforcement action against the offending businesses, which may result in criminal prosecutions against individuals involved.

Tameside Council Executive Member for Climate Emergency and  Environmental Services Cllr Denise Ward said: “While most businesses are very responsible and compliant with the regulations, these operations have highlighted that very disappointingly there are some businesses putting the local community at risk by being prepared to sell restricted products to children under the 18 and/or selling illicit tobacco.

“Under-age drinking and smoking is not only harmful to those involved, but it also sometimes leads to anti-social behaviour, noise and litter. While the sale of illicit tobacco supports organised crime, encourages smokers to continue smoking, encourages children to try smoking and keeps money from vital services. So there is a negative impact on the local community on many levels.

“We will always take robust action against those in breach of the regulations and my thanks goes to members of the community who have provided information to help us target the non-compliant premises.”

Members of the public who have concerns about a particular business can report these to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS) on 0808 223 1133 or at using this link.

Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers by telephoning 0800 555 111 or online at

Pictured: Some of the illicit tobacco seized during the operation