A Salford shopkeeper who continued to sell illegal and counterfeit cigarettes despite two previous raids by trading standards officers, has been fined after pleading guilty in court.
Shujat Ali, owner of Super Discount Store in Hulton, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and the Trade Marks Act 1994 for possession of counterfeit cigarettes when he appeared at Manchester & Salford Magistrates Court on May 20.
He was fined £780, ordered to pay £740 costs and a £30 victim surcharge. The cigarettes were ordered to be destroyed.
Salford City Council Trading Standards Officers found counterfeit cigarettes and empty cartons at the Little Hulton shop while in the process of cautioning him for two previous offences.
The court heard that Salford City Council Trading Standards officers and a specialist dog handler visited the business on May 29, 2019 and seized illicit tobacco worth £7,000. They recovered 11,000 cigarettes, 7,780 of which were counterfeit and 107 pouches of hand rolling tobacco, six of which were counterfeit.
Two weeks later on June 11, officers carried out a follow-up visit and seized 720 cigarettes, of which 520 were counterfeit, worth £882. All the products were seized and Ali accepted a caution for the offences.
On November 28, 2019, following more public complaints about the shop, trading standards officers and a specialist dog handler visited the premises and asked Ali if there were any illegal products on site to which he replied no. The premises were searched and a sleeve of Richmond King Size branded cigarettes, containing 200 cigarettes, was found in a box of umbrellas in the back storeroom.
Ali admitted he had been selling illicit cigarettes daily and had continued to do so since trading standards last raided his shop in June 2019. Officers identified £1,694.22 of cash on the premises and this was seized by trading standards as proceeds of crime and has since been forfeited.
Ali failed to attend two interviews to explain his actions and made no contact with trading standards.
Speaking after the case, Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, praised members of the public who had alerted trading standards.
“This is great work by council officers. Selling counterfeit tobacco deprives the country of taxes to fund vital public services like the NHS and undermines all our attempts to help people quit smoking to protect their health.
“In 2020-2021 Salford City Councils trading standards team seized 110,0990 cigarettes and 875 pouches of illegal and counterfeit tobacco. We will not hesitate to take action against anyone who thinks they can flout the law in this way,” he said.
Andrea Crossfield, of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Illegal tobacco might seem like a bargain but it comes at a high price to our kids and our communities.
“Legal or illegal, all tobacco contains a toxic cocktail of chemicals which will kill one in two long-term smokers. Illegal cigarettes are often responsible for getting children started on this lethal addiction, because of their availability at pocket money prices and because dealers don’t care who they sell to. The crackdown on illegal tobacco is part of wider efforts to cut smoking rates and make smoking history for future generations.”