A shop in Cumnock has had thousands of pounds worth of produce taken from its shelves after a sniffer dog detected illegal tobacco products.

On Friday, September 4, almost 16,000 illegal cigarettes and 3kg of potentially dangerous hand rolling tobacco was seized from the Cumnock store by trading standards officers.

After a tip off from the public, trading standards officers attended the shop, accompanied by their super sniffer, Dixie the Consumer Protection Dog. 

Dixie had no trouble identifying the problem products, which officers subsequently confiscated from the store.

The shop concerned has not yet been named due to an ongoing enquiry.

Councillor Jim McMahon, cabinet member for community safety, East Ayrshire Council, commenting on the seizure, said: “Our Trading Standards Team are fully committed to protecting consumers from potentially harmful products like this fake tobacco. Its sale not only risks the health of those who use it, it cheats the treasury of around £5,000 of unpaid duty, it creates an unfair trading environment for other law abiding traders, who invest in legitimate stock and pay their way in duty and who are often struggling to compete in this difficult economic climate.

“For smokers, fake tobacco can be much more harmful than regulated products, they can contain all sorts of toxins, and we’d urge everyone to take care that they’re using legitimate tobacco and report any suspicions.

“Dixie the dog was the star on this occasion, being a spaniel, her nose is so well tuned to finding these products. She's helped us before and ultimately she is a life saver. We’re all very pleased to be able to work with her and her handler as part of our operations.

“At the end of the day, we’re also very grateful to members of the public who made us aware of the situation.

"Our Trading Standards team exists to protect everyone from harmful products. They are there to help the public in any difficult consumer situation, but it’s a two way process. Reporting any suspicions or worries about shops or transactions is vital for them to build up a picture and take effective action for the good of the whole community. 

East Ayrshire Trading Standards can be reached at: trading.standards@east-ayrshire.gov.uk and more info can be found on their website at: https://www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/ehts.