Shop keeper taken to court after illegal cigarettes seized

Published: Thursday, 28th March 2019

A shop keeper has been ordered to pay more than £1,400 after dozens of packets of illegal cigarettes were seized.

Omar Khidir appeared at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on March 18 where he pleaded guilty to offences relating to the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and incorrectly labelled cigarette products from Chocolate Shop, on High Street, Tunstall. He also admitted failing to register with the city council as a food business operator.

The prosecution came following a test purchase exercise by Stoke-on-Trent City Council Trading Standards at the shop on February 12 last year, where a counterfeit packet of Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco was sold.

Two days later, a dog trained in tobacco detection was sent into the shop and helped with the discovery of 252 packets of cigarettes hidden in a wall, of which 115 were counterfeit. The remainder did not comply with the standardised packaging requirements or the requirements relating to the health warnings, including the health warnings being in English. The goods had a retail value of £2,142, street value of £882 and the evasion of £1,758 tobacco duty.

Khidir, aged 32, of Byrkley Street, Burton-upon-Trent, was fined £540 by magistrates and ordered to pay £811 prosecution costs and a £54 victim surcharge – a total of £1,405.

A city council spokesman said: “This shows the council and the courts take the sale of counterfeit cigarette and tobacco products very seriously. It’s a crime which damages communities and harms legitimate businesses and we will take action against traders who knowingly sell it. Counterfeit tobacco is damaging to people's health and seriously undermines the work of stop smoking services. We’re pleased with the outcome of this latest prosecution, and will continue to take action against any trader found to be selling illegal tobacco in the city. This prosecution should act as a warning to anyone breaking the law.”

Anyone with information about people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco can report it by calling the fakes hotline on 01782 238444.

For all media enquiries please contact the press office at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.