ILLEGAL TOBACCO SELLER PLEADS GUILTY
On the 22nd August 2019, Patricia Gajdosova appeared at Kirklees Magistrates Court for selling illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco at her business, Euro Market, 1a Bradford Rd, Dewsbury, WF13 1EL. Gajdosova pleaded guilty to all charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work, to be completed within 12 months, contribute £600 towards legal costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
The premises of Euro Market 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 Euro Market 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 in nearby storage areas. The total amount recovered was over 25,000 cigarettes and 11kg of hand rolling tobacco resulting in a loss of duty over £10,000 for the government.
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.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said “Members of the public should recognise the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with human trafficking. In addition, the packaging has none of the hard-hitting images and messages designed to remind people of the wide range of health harms smoking can cause that legal cigarette packaging now carries.”
Councillor Habiban Zaman, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said “Smoking rates in the UK are declining. Reducing the supply and demand of illegal tobacco is one important element of a comprehensive approach to tackling tobacco harm in communities. It is key to addressing smoking-related health inequalities and poverty, playing a key role in preventing young people from starting to smoke.”
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.”