Former shopkeeper admits selling illegal tobacco
Former Cheltenham shopkeeper Bakhttar Abdulah Ali has pleaded guilty to selling illegal tobacco products and been ordered to pay a total of £5,088.64 in fines, costs and victim surcharges.
The 35-year-old was found to be selling the illegal products at International Mini Market in Cheltenham High Street between 14th September and 13th October last year.
Following an investigation by Gloucestershire Trading Standards Service, Ali was charged with seven offences – one offence under the Trade Marks Act 1994 relating to sales of counterfeit cigarettes and six under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 due to breaches of the Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale)(Safety) Regulations 2002.
The store was selling packs of 20 illegal cigarettes for between £3 and £4.50, instead of the recommended retail price of £7.09 for legitimate products.
Illegal tobacco was being sold at £6.50 or £8.50 for 50g, when the normal selling price in the shop was between £14.96 or £16 for the same amount of legitimate product.
Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard that the illegal tobacco was found hidden in various places around the shop, including under a shelving unit, in an air conditioning unit and in a toilet cistern.
In total, 71 packs of 20 cigarettes and 127 pouches of 50g tobacco were sold or seized.
Eddie Coventry, Head of Trading Standards, said: “We are continuing to find Gloucestershire traders willing to sell illegal tobacco, despite other recent prosecutions in the county. We remain determined to tackle this illegal trade, which can put people’s health at risk and harms legitimate traders.”
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “Successful prosecutions such as these highlight the fact that people engaging in this illegal industry are not getting away with it. We welcome any further information that the public can provide to help us identify other people involved in this criminal activity.”
If residents have any concerns about tobacco products being sold at this shop, or any others in the county, they should report it to Trading Standards through Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06 or if they wish to remain anonymous by using www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.
Notes for editors:
• Tobacco products which do not comply with UK labelling cannot be sold in the UK. The sale of such products is an offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
• The supply of counterfeit tobacco is an offence under the Trade Marks Act 1994.
• Illegal imported tobacco products will not have paid the tax duty which would be due on the products. This is to the detriment of the Treasury and in unfair competition to legitimate traders who are selling tobacco at the full duty paid price. The sale of illegally imported tobacco undermines Government policy of maintaining high tobacco duty rates to support health objectives.
• The low price of the tobacco enables people to continue smoking who would otherwise be encouraged to stop smoking or cut down. The illegal tobacco does not include Government health warnings intended to alert consumers to the risks of smoking.
• Six guilty pleas were in relation to Consumer Protection Act 1987 offences, fined 6 x £400 per offence (concurrent).
• One guilty plea in relation to Trade Marks Act 1994 offence, fined £660.
• Total fines equal £1,060.
• Victim surcharge equals £15.
• Full costs equal £4,013.64.
Issued by: Keith Coles, Gloucestershire County Council media team, 01452 425391
DATE: 02 August 2013