780,000: That's how many illegal cigarettes are smoked in Notts every day
A FLOOD of fake and smuggled tobacco fuelled by organised crime means about one in four cigarettes now smoked in Notts is illegal.
More than 780,000 counterfeit or smuggled fags are smoked every day across the county.
The scale of the problem has emerged as trading standards officers seized 54,000 fake and smuggled cigarettes in two Nottingham raids this week.
The huge hauls – collected in two locations which have been kept secret – more than doubled a running total for an operation which began in June.
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Trading standards, Notts Police, Customs officers and Imperial Tobacco are all investigating smuggled and fake cigarettes in Notts.
Colin Wragg, head of UK corporate and legal affairs for the tobacco company, said: "The problem ranges from, for example, an air stewardess bringing 500 back to sell to her friends, to organised crime groups, some from Eastern Europe, China, the Middle East.
"Illegal sellers also don't care who they sell to – there are many who sell it to children."
Imperial Tobacco says a quarter of cigarettes smoked in Notts in the last three months of 2012 were illegal – up from 15 per cent the previous year. The increase is being put down to people buying cheaper cigarettes because of increases in duty on legal cigarettes.
City trading standards manager Jane Bailey said: "The operation is going well – we're getting a lot of information in".