South East Wales

Newport sniffer dog Phoebe's £500,000 tobacco haul in May

Phoebe the sniffer dog Image copyright Newport council
Image caption Phoebe treats her job "like a game", Local Government Minister Lesley Griffiths said

She sniffed out £500,000 of illegal tobacco in one month alone and is a key part of the fight against the sale of tobacco to underage children.

Springer spaniel Phoebe and her handler, Newport trading standards' Stuart Phillips, were visited by Welsh government ministers on Wednesday.

The pair have helped raid a number of shops believed to have counterfeit and illegally labelled tobacco.

In May, Phoebe sniffed out £500,000 worth of tobacco hidden in shops.

Local government and government business minister Lesley Griffiths said: "It was fascinating watching Phoebe at work. She clearly enjoys her job and seemed to treat the whole experience as a game, which makes the results even more impressive.

"Local authorities play a significant role in tobacco control, including restricting access to illegal tobacco products, and the service provided to local authority trading standards teams by dogs like Phoebe is invaluable."

These operations are part of an effort to stop the sale of tobacco to under-18s with the hope of reducing the number of smokers.

Tobacco causes more than 5,400 deaths each year in Wales, and treating smoking-related diseases costs NHS Wales an estimated £302m per year.

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