Plans to sell fake tobacco go up in smoke
An investigation by the Trading Standards department of Bridgend County Borough Council has led to the prosecution of a local man for possessing illicit and counterfeit cigarettes.
Jamie Balint of Bron-Y-Waun, Garth, Maesteg was found guilty at Newport Crown Court of the possession of 79,180 illicit ‘White’ cigarettes and 101 packets of counterfeit Golden Virginia tobacco.
He was prosecuted under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and Consumer Protection Act 1987 and received a 51 week prison sentence suspended for two years, 280 hours community service and was ordered to pay costs of £2,614.
A forfeiture order was also made for all of the seized illicit items, as well as Mr. Balint’s van and £2,642 in cash which was found during a search of his property.
The items were discovered after Mr. Balint’s van was stopped by South Wales Police and discovered to be full of illicit stock. A search warrant was then executed at his home address where further illicit items were discovered, including the large quantity of cash.
Manufacturers confirmed that the seized tobacco items were fake and Mr. Balint was also found with vodka, whiskey and fireworks in his possession with intent to supply.
Helen Picton, Service Manager for Trading Standards, said: “While all cigarettes and tobacco are harmful, people should also be aware that fake tobacco is even more hazardous than the real thing because you can never be sure what you are smoking.
“Analysis of counterfeit tobacco products has revealed highly dangerous ingredients such as cyanide, plastic, sand, insects and even rat droppings.
“In many cases, counterfeit cigarettes have also been found to be much stronger than genuine ones.”
Deputy Leader David Sage added: “Dealing in fake goods has a direct impact on the local community as people are being ripped off with cheap, low-quality and potentially dangerous alternatives. It also affects the national economy and is detrimental to businesses that trade fairly.
“Bridgend County Borough Council is committed towards protecting residents and safeguarding the interests of local businesses, and has a zero tolerance approach towards anyone who attempts to flout the law in this way.
“I would urge anyone who has information about the sale of illicit or counterfeit goods in Bridgend County Borough to report it by calling (01656) 643479 or emailing email@example.com – this can be done anonymously if you prefer.”
For more information, contact Media and External Communications Officer Liam Ronan on (01656) 643217 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bridgend.gov.uk