English Springer Spaniel Pippa sniffs out illegal cigarettes in a shop

Fake goods up in smoke thanks to pooch Pippa

Thousands of pounds worth of illegal cigarettes and tobacco have been taken off the streets of Liverpool thanks to the nose-power of a furry, four-legged officer.

To crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods, Liverpool City Council’s Alcohol and Tobacco Unit has welcomed a new addition to the team – Pippa, a specially trained tobacco sniffer dog.

The unit carried out unannounced inspections of six premises across the city on Sunday (28 November) and from four shops they discovered 31,000 illicit cigarettes and 6kg worth of loose tobacco – worth in excess of £16,000.  

The fake products were all hidden in concealed compartments which were sniffed out by Pippa in the Kensington, city centre and in County ward. The haul consisted of foreign-labelled cigarettes, counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.

Counterfeit cigarettes and non-duty paid/smuggled cigarettes have been found to contain higher levels of toxic components such as tar and nicotine which can put lives at risk. Rat and mouse droppings, along with other dead insects, have also been discovered in fake goods.

Staff and management at the four premises will now be subject to a criminal investigation.

The six-year-old English Springer Spaniel was provided by detection dogs specialist Wagtails UK.

Anyone aware of illegal trading in the city can report it here.

Liverpool’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Councillor Abdul Qadir: “No cigarettes are good for you, but counterfeit cigarettes can contain even higher levels of cancer-causing toxins so we are doing as much as we can to ensure they aren’t sold in our city.  

“Our Alcohol and Tobacco Unit is dedicated to targeting this type of illicit activity and it’s great to see sniffer dogs like Pippa being brought in as part of the team to help us protect the public.

“The sale of fake and cheap tobacco undermines our ambitions to improve the health of residents in areas of Liverpool where health inequalities are of significant concern, particularly in relation to tobacco-related illnesses.

“Premises that continue to supply these products will be targeted, and if they’re caught out, this could result in significant prosecutions.”

Liverpool Waterfront