On the 28th February 2020, Adam Ali appeared at Bradford Magistrates Court for supplying illegal tobacco from his business Piotr I Pawel, 23 Duckworth Lane, Bradford, BD9 5ES. Ali pleaded guilty on all charges and was sentenced to 80 hours unpaid work over 12 months and ordered to take part in 10 sessions of ‘thinking rehabilitation skills’. He was also ordered to pay £300 towards costs and a £85 victim surcharge.
The premises of Piotr I Pawel is well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTS) with the Service having received many complaints over the years about the premises supplying illicit and duty free tobacco.
WYTS visited Piotr I Pawel multiple times and seized illegal products on each occasion which were counterfeit, did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packaging and were non duty paid. Illegal tobacco was found hidden in the sales area and the back store room in sophisticated concealments. The total amount recovered was over 8,420 cigarettes and 1.2kg of Hand rolling Tobacco.
The inspections and prosecution were part of The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme that is funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire which is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The programme utilises marketing campaigns and multi-agency enforcement to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.
To date the programme has taken more than 5 million illegal cigarettes and over 1 tonne of illegal hand rolling tobacco off the streets. With more inspections planned in West Yorkshire over the coming weeks these figures are likely to increase.
Illegal cigarettes and tobacco are usually sold at a fraction of the price in a range of locations such as pubs, clubs, shops, private houses and even by street hawkers. Illegal tobacco undermines the age and price restrictions placed on tobacco and also encourages people to continue smoking. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth billions of pounds. Victims of human trafficking are often being forced to sell these illegal products in order to pay off debts or fearing harm to themselves or their families.
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Governance and Audit Sub-Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said “Cheap, illegal tobacco can make it easier for children and teens to get cigarettes and start smoking, which has a negative impact on their health and can result in life-threatening diseases. Sadly, we know this is not a victimless crime and sentencing does not always reflect the wider harm. The illegal tobacco trade creates a continuously accessible low-cost source of tobacco to children. It also enables smokers to continue with the habit without the motivation of price to enable them to quit.”
If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illegal tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/ anonymously.
Please click the link to see a video of the seizure of illegal tobacco at the above premises - https://bit.ly/2VF3LzA