An investigation by Oldham Trading Standards has resulted in a shopkeeper being fined and ordered to carry out community service after being found guilty of illicit tobacco offences.
On 19 September, 2020, Trading Standards Officers raided grocery store Timisoara in Oldham following complaints from members of the public. With the help of a specially trained sniffer dog from WagTail, they discovered 22,557 mixed brand cigarettes and 100g of rolling tobacco.
The illicit items were found concealed behind the counter, in a specially adapted jacket and in a hold-all in the shop’s basement. All of the illicit products were seized.
In court on 17 June, 2022, shopkeeper Sardar Mohammed of Vale Drive, Oldham, pleaded guilty to offences under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and an offence under the Trade Marks Act 1994.
Mohammed was sentenced to an 18-month community order, which requires him to carry out 30 days of rehabilitation activity and 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also told to pay costs of £3,450 and a £95 victim surcharge.
Councillor Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Thanks to good work by our Trading Standards staff, and tip-offs from residents, a large haul of illegal cigarettes has been seized.
“Illegal tobacco makes it easier for children and young people to buy cigarettes and get hooked on smoking. The people making money out of this do not care who they sell to and the illegal tobacco trade has strong links with organised crime, so many of the people smuggling, distributing and selling it are involved in drug dealing, money laundering and people trafficking.
“As a council we’d always encourage residents not to smoke as it’s unhealthy and can have long term consequences. We are working with partners across Greater Manchester to drive down the illegal trade and the market is declining but it still goes on.
“If you know where cheap tobacco is being sold, often as ‘duty free’, please get in touch. We will take action if we find illegal tobacco for sale.”