Sniffing out illegal tobacco is all in a day's work for Pippa the dog.
And the expert spaniel is set to show off her skills in detecting illegal tobacco at roadshows next week in Aylesbury and Wycombe.
The roadshows will highlight the dangers of the counterfeit tobacco trade, with members of Buckinghamshire County Council's trading standards and public health teams on hand to inform visitors about the damaging impact of illicit tobacco in communities, and how people can help stub out the trade by reporting shopkeepers and dealers who sell it.
Also on hand will be Pippa from Wagtail UK, who work with trading standards officers when they search premises for illegal tobacco.
Illegal cigarettes may contain rogue ingredients and rarely carry health warnings. They have no tax duty paid on them, cheating the public purse of money for essential services such as adult social care, and are often linked to organised crime. Young people can easily fall victim, too, getting hooked on products sold at 'pocket money' prices.
Additionally, legal cigarettes have a safety feature which means they extinguish if left unattended, whilst illegal ones do not, making them a potentially lethal fire hazard.
Noel Brown, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement & Public Health, said: "People don't realise the harm caused by counterfeit tobacco. Not only can it contain harmful substances through slipshod manufacturing, but it's very cheap and by its illegal nature is usually sold 'under the counter', which means that the laws preventing children from obtaining tobacco often aren't followed.
"We can all play a vital role in stopping the sale of illicit tobacco in our local community, so I'd really encourage people to come along to one of the roadshows and find out how to spot the signs of this illegal activity."
The roadshows are from 10am to 4pm and they’ll take place at:
• Aylesbury Market, Market Square Wednesday 24 October
• High Wycombe Market, High Street Friday 26 October
Advisers from Live Well Stay Well will also be on hand to talk to residents about ways to quit smoking in Buckinghamshire. More information on this service can be found at www.livewellstaywellbucks.co.uk/Service/29/stop-smoking.
Anyone with information on illegal tobacco can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards on 0300 123 2329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.