A shopkeeper prosecuted by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards has pleaded guilty to supplying illegal shisha tobacco.
On 29 July Oxford Magistrates’ Court heard how Trading Standards officers visited Zaid Supermarket on Cowley Road in Oxford in March 2020 and seized more than 20,000 grams of illegal tobacco from under the counter.
The store’s owner, Mohamed Badache (32) was given a written warning that the premises would be visited again and he could face prosecution if more illegal tobacco were found.
On 15 December 2020 an undercover Trading Standards Officer visited the shop and was able to purchase a 100 gram pot of illicit shisha tobacco and on 21 December Officers conducted a second raid, in which they seized a further 23,500 grams of illegal shisha products. None of the tobacco products were labelled with the required statutory warnings and the packaging made reference to a taste, smell or flavouring, all of which are prohibited. A sample of shisha tobacco labelled with the ‘Irn-Bru’ trademark was subsequently confirmed as being counterfeit.
Badache pleaded guilty to five offences and was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £3,219.19.
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “Many people falsely believe that shisha tobacco smoke is somehow filtered by the water in the pipe, or that fruit used to flavour shisha somehow makes it less harmful than cigarettes. The truth is that all the research done on shisha shows one thing: it is as bad for you as cigarettes.
“We know it can be hard to stop using tobacco products but help is available. People are three times more likely to successfully quit by using a stop smoking service like Smokefree Oxfordshire. The service is free to everyone living in the county.”
In the past 12 months, Oxfordshire County Council has seized nearly 750,000 illegal cigarettes and nearly 60,000 grams of illegal hand-rolling and shisha tobacco.