More than £900,000 worth of illegal vapes and cigarettes off the streets in 12 months

MORE than £900,000 of illegal vapes, cigarettes and tobacco have been removed from Rotherham’s streets over the past year.
DETERMINED: Chief Supt Laura KoscikiewiczDETERMINED: Chief Supt Laura Koscikiewicz
DETERMINED: Chief Supt Laura Koscikiewicz

South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council’s trading standards team – key partners in Rotherham’s Tobacco Control Alliance – have worked closely to keep communities in Rotherham safe by carrying out targeted operations and swooping in on retailers suspected of selling these items, which fail to meet safety standards and often contain contaminants which make them significantly more harmful to health.

As of the end of December 2023, a total of 27,085 vapes were seized across Rotherham, with a total value of £301,117. In addition to this, a total of 1,221,788 cigarettes were seized, valued at £525,836. Finally, a total of 82,151 grams of illegal tobacco was seized, to the value of £83,882.

In total, products to the street value of £910,835 were seized in this 12-month period, and the hard work continues in 2024.

Chief Superintendent Laura Koscikiewicz said: “Removing illegal vapes, cigarettes and tobacco from our streets was one of our key priorities last year, as we were aware that the amount being discovered was very high. I am therefore extremely pleased with these results and we remain committed to continuing to ensure Rotherham remains a safe place to work, live and visit.

“The safety of the people of Rotherham and across the whole of South Yorkshire is our priority, and these illegal substances are being sold to people with potentially harmful chemicals within them, which could cause serious health problems.

“I can assure the people of Rotherham and the rest of South Yorkshire that the hard work does not stop here and we continue to focus on this issue and make it a key priority. A huge well done to all who were involved in this fantastic work.”

Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and public health, Cllr David Roche, said: “The availability of illegal tobacco and vape products on our streets is a huge concern for the council, and 2024 will see additional investment of public health funding in the trading standards team.

“These products are often targeted at children and other vulnerable residents, leading to a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated harm to health. Illegal products often contain contaminants that are potentially extremely harmful and pose a huge health risk to residents.

“The council is committed to helping everyone to live as independently, safely and healthily as possible and so it’s pleasing to hear that so many illegal vapes, cigarettes and tobacco have been removed from sale through the joint working of council and police teams.”

Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for corporate services, community safety and finance, Cllr Saghir Alam, said: “We will continue to work with local businesses to ensure they are complying with the law and with our partners at South Yorkshire Police.

“Our message to local retailers is not to risk their businesses or the health of their customers by getting involved with this trade. Any retailers who continue to sell illegal products will have them confiscated and face prosecution.”

If you have any information relating to the suspected sale of illicit vapes or tobacco products from shops anywhere within your area, you can report this via South Yorkshire Police's online portal or by calling 101.