ILLEGAL TOBACCO SELLER FOUND GUILTY
On the 8th August 2019, Mohammad Zada appeared at York Crown Court for selling illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco at his business, International Express, 27 John William St, Huddersfield, HD1 1BL. Zada was found guilty on all charges and is due to be sentenced on the 30th August 2019.
The premises of International Express 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 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 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 almost 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 “Far from being a victimless crime illegal tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people and encourages adults to continue smoking by eroding cost motivation to quit. Members of the public should recognise the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with modern slavery and human trafficking.”
Councillor Habiban Zaman, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said “All tobacco is harmful, but the supply of illegal cigarettes seriously undermines the drive to reduce smoking, fuels organised criminality and is often a gateway for young people to becoming addicted to a habit which prematurely kills over half its users.”
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.”