On the 13th March 2019, Mr Merza Alipoor from Bradford appeared at Bradford Magistrates Court for selling illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco at his business, Piotr I Pawel, 23 Duckworth Lane, Bradford, BD9 5ES. Mr Alipoor pleaded guilty and was fined £2500 plus a victim surcharge of £180. He was also ordered to pay costs of £3,544 bringing his total bill to £6,224.
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 tobacco on each occasion which did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packaging and were non duty paid. Illegal tobacco was found hidden under the counter and in a sophisticated hydraulic concealment.
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 4 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.”
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.
Notes to Editor
For further information please contact Babul Hussain firstname.lastname@example.org
Image is of the concealed tobacco products