A shopkeeper has been ordered to pay more than £1,700 after selling a packet of counterfeit cigarettes to a child.
Ahmed Mohammed Ali, who previously owned Bentilee International Mini Market, pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to the sale of tobacco. These include five counts of selling counterfeit and illegal tobacco and one count of selling counterfeit tobacco to a person under the age of 18.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrate’s Court heard the Bentilee shop sold a packet of Mayfair cigarettes to a 16-year-old volunteer during a test purchase exercise. This was carried out by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team as part of a city-wide operation in January 2019. The shop failed to ask the volunteer for their age and ID. The cigarettes were also sold for £3.50, well below the price usually charged for this brand. They were not in standardised packaging and were found to be counterfeit.
During a second visit on February 8, 2019, council officers conducted another test purchase at the premises and a packet of Richmond cigarettes were sold to an officer for £3.50. These were not in standardised packaging and were confirmed as counterfeit.
Mr Ali, of Alder Walk in Derby, pleaded guilty to all charges and was ordered to pay a total of £1,161. He was also ordered to pay £519 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £38.
Following the prosecution, Councillor Randy Conteh, cabinet member for communities and safer city at the city council, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “The sale of illicit tobacco is 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 can undermine efforts to help people quit smoking as it is usually sold at a cheaper price. People who deal in illegal tobacco are more likely to encourage others – especially children and young adults – to smoke, and they are also harming legitimate businesses and damaging communities.
“We’re pleased with the outcome of this latest prosecution and hope that this conviction will serve as a deterrent to this individual and to others from selling counterfeit tobacco and to underage people.
“We will continue to work closely with our partners in the police to take action against any trader found to be selling illegal tobacco in the city.”
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 Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232395.