A shopkeeper who sold illicit tobacco from his premises in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been fined and given a 12-month Community Order following a prosecution brought by Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards.
Hardi Saleh, 47, was selling packs of 20 cigarettes for as little as £5 when Trading Standards Officers raided Newcastle Mini Market twice in 2021.
Illicit cigarettes and tobacco with a retail value of more than £8,000 were discovered concealed in a hidden compartment in the shop and were seized as part of an ongoing operation to combat the sale and supply of illegal tobacco.
Saleh pleaded guilty to 14 Trading Standards offences at a previous hearing at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on 9 January 2023. He has now been ordered to complete 220 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £2,245.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Illicit and counterfeit tobacco damages communities and harms legitimate businesses, and we will take action against traders who knowingly sell it. Today’s sentence should act as a reminder to others selling such products that we take the issue seriously.
“Our officers continue to work hard to combat the sale of all illicit goods, especially alcohol and tobacco which can be extremely harmful. The team do rely on intelligence from members of the public and businesses and anyone with information should contact the team.”
In the UK, it is estimated that about one in 10 of all cigarettes and half of all hand-rolling tobacco are not duty paid. The illegal trade in tobacco also has strong links to organised crime and illicit tobacco has a devastating effect on health.
During recent years, Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards have uncovered more than three million illegal cigarettes and almost 200kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco with an estimated street value of £1,026,476.