A CRACKDOWN on bogus cigarettes being sold by Keighley shops unearthed a haul of hard drugs.

Illegal and drugs were found during raids on several shops across central Keighley by a multi-agency task force in advance of No Smoking Day.

As part of the Keep It Out campaign, police, Trading Standards and Bradford Council officers visited shops to search for counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes and ensure licenses were up-to-date.

Keighley police said three shops in one street were visited and a large amount of tobacco and cigarettes seized.

While searching for cigarettes at another premises, in Highfield, officers found suspicious packages containing more than 150 wraps of suspected drugs. A man was arrested for possession with the intent to supply Class A drugs.

On the same day the Neighbourhood Policing Team arrested a man in Victoria Park who had a substantial amount of cannabis, and a man in Devonshire Park carrying Class A drugs.

Keep It Out was a regional campaign to crack down on illegal tobacco sales as part of the run-up to annual No Smoking Day on Wednesday, March 14.

Northern councils linked up to tackle illegal tobacco, which include cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco and other smokers’ products, that were either counterfeit or had been smuggled into Britain without tax being paid.

Bradford Council said such goods were usually available through unlicensed outlets, with many of the outlets selling illegal tobacco products to children and young people. The sales have been linked with increasing crime at a local level.

Keep it Out encourages both smokers and non-smokers to report the sale of illegal tobacco through a confidential telephone line.

The council said that while all forms of tobacco kill one in two long term smokers, illegal tobacco bypasses price and age restrictions.

Sarah Muckle, Deputy Director of Public Health, said the campaign highlighted problems linked to illegal tobacco.

She said: “It undermines effectiveness of tobacco control programmes, by undercutting legitimate outlets it means it is harder for smokers to quit and it enables children and young people to have easier access to tobacco, increasing the likelihood of them smoking.”

Recent surveys in Yorkshire show 31 per cent of smokers have tried illegal tobacco; illegal tobacco makes up nine per cent of the tobacco market and 16 per cent of smokers feel comfortable with the sale of illegal tobacco.

Local trading standards teams are already working with retailers and partner organisations to raise awareness of illegal tobacco, as well as carrying out enforcement action.

This includes using sniffer dogs and following up information from members of the public who can report illegal tobacco confidentially.

Cllr Val Slater, Bradford Council’s health and well-being supremo, said illegal tobacco brought crime into local communities and got children hooked on smoking.

She added: “I urge anyone who has information about the supplying of illegal tobacco to help tackle the problem by reporting it.”

Visit keep-it-out.co.uk or call the confidential hotline 0300 9990000 to report information about illegal tobacco.