News item

Unsafe cigarette filter linked to death of Hemsworth woman

A company responsible for importing dangerous cigarette filters, linked to the death of an elderly Hemsworth woman, has pleaded guilty at Wakefield Magistrates Court to placing an unsafe product on the market.

The director of Manchester–based Legacy Enterprises (GB) Ltd, Mr. Taranjit Singh, aged 23, of Stafford Court in London, admitted that his company had imported the “Legacy Mini Filters” from China, but had failed to carry out a risk assessment or any safety testing on the product.
The case arose following the sad death in February 2011 of 83-year-old Alice Davies of Hemsworth, who inhaled a Legacy Mini Filter when it became detached from the cigarette she was smoking, and became lodged in her lung. Despite the surgical removal of the filter Mrs Davies died.

A detailed investigation was conducted by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, which included independent product safety testing and an expert report from a consultant surgeon into the risks posed by these products. Both reports indicated that the filters posed a significant risk of accidental inhalation, due to their size and due to the lack of instructions and warnings for users. Trading Standards were also hampered in tracing the producer of the filters by the lack of a name and address on the product.

In court, Mr. Singh offered his sincere apologies for the tragic events of this case and expressed great sympathy for the family of Mrs Davies, who were present in court. In mitigation, Legacy Enterprises (GB) Ltd had imported the product, but were not the manufacturer and had acted naively rather than as a result of any sharp practice. It was claimed as purely a coincidence that the product was named “Legacy”.

On the three charges against Mr. Singh personally, due to his neglect when acting as director of the company, he was sentenced to complete a community order involving 300 hours of unpaid work. On the three charges against the company, fines totalling £10,500 were imposed, together with £2,497 prosecution costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said: “West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is committed to protecting the safety and health of West Yorkshire consumers. This is a very sad case, but it will hopefully act as a reminder to businesses of their responsibilities to carry out the relevant checks and tests to ensure their products are safe and meet the requirements of UK legislation.”

Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Services said: “This Service is aware of similar products on the market. Whilst we’ve only evidence that the “Legacy” brand is unsafe, we’re liaising with Trading Standards colleagues around the country who have distributors of similar products in their areas. We have also informed the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills of the wider safety issue. We would urge people to be very careful if they do choose to use this type of product.”

Notes for editors:

  •     Case was heard on Friday the 11th of May
  •     The product is available to be photographed or photos can be supplied.

Mini Filters are small plastic filters about the size of a 1p piece that fit on to the end of a cigarette and claim to reduce the amount of tar a smoker inhales.

For more information contact David Lodge, Divisional Manager & General Media Contact   0113 393 9704.