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Sniffer dog highlights dangers of smuggled tobacco

Phoebe the spaniel was helping to highlight the dangers of smuggled tobacco at a roadshow in Huntingdon. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A sniffer dog with a nose for illegal cigarettes is helping in a crackdown by Trading Standards in Cambridgeshire.

Phoebe the spaniel was helping to highlight the dangers of smuggled tobacco at a roadshow in Huntingdon.

Last week two Cambridgeshire shop owners were found guilty of selling illegal tobacco after their stash was discovered with the help of a sniffer dog.

Members of the public can see Illegal Tobacco Unit sniffer dogs in action at a roadshow this week. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Phoebe is six years old and had to train for six months to be a sniffer dog.

She has been detecting tobacco for the past four years.

Human beings have around 5 million smell receptors whereas sniffer dogs like Phoebe have more than 200 million so can detect the scent of tobacco among all the other smells she encounters.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes

"Smoking remains one of the biggest risks for health and these cheap cigarettes may encourage more people to smoke.

"Children and young people are particularly at risk as they are often targeted by sellers.

"It is important that people avoid these illegal products at all costs to discourage them being sold in their communities."

– Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council
Young people are targeted by people who sell illegal cigarettes. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Members of the public can see Illegal Tobacco Unit sniffer dogs in action during the roadshow, demonstrating the skills used to help Trading Standards detect illicit tobacco.

Sellers of illegal tobacco target vulnerable communities where a large number of people smoke and have poorer health.

Illegal cigarettes are often sold in ones or twos making them affordable for children and young people.

Phoebe the sniffer dog is touring Cambridgeshire to raise awareness of illegal tobacco. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Trading Standards recently seized over 25,000 cigarettes and 7.5kg of rolling tobacco as part of a joint operation in Cambridgeshire to tackle the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

The raids took place using tobacco detection dogs in March 2016.

The Illegal Tobacco Unit will visit:

  • Wisbech - Tuesday 20 September (9.30am - 4pm)
  • March - Wednesday 21 September (9.30am - 4pm)
  • Ely - Thursday 22 September (9.30am - 4pm)
  • St Neots - Friday 23 September (9.30am - 4pm)