ILLEGAL TOBACCO DEALER SENT TO PRISON
On the 30th August 2019 Mohammad Zada appeared at York Crown Court for sentencing having been found guilty for supplying illegal tobacco from his business International Express, 27 John William St, Huddersfield, HD1 1BL. Zada was previously found guilty on all charges on the 8th August 2019. Zada was sentenced to 12 months prison, with 6 months in custody and 6 months on licence.
The premises, International Express, came to the attention of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) due to complaints from members of the public about illegal tobacco sales.
WYTSS in partnership with officers from Huddersfield Town Centre NPT visited International Express multiple times and seized illegal tobacco 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 72,000 cigarettes and 8kg of Hand rolling Tobacco.
The inspections and investigation 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.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said “we are delighted the Courts recognised the severity of the offending by this well organised and unscrupulous retail operation that caused significant harm to the community of Kirklees. Such illegal trading in tobacco undermines public health measures and also puts other legitimate retailers at a competitive disadvantage and risk of closure. Retailers need to realise that this sort of persistent offending can, and often does, result in custodial sentences.”
Councillor Habiban Zaman, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said “this case should act as a deterrent to any trader who may be tempted to stock illegal tobacco and cigarettes. Trading Standards will act to ensure public health controls on tobacco are upheld and that traders are not exposing the public to illegal tobacco and cigarettes.”
If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illegal tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 and the dedicated team at West Yorkshire Trading Standards will carry out an inspection.