On the 19th January 2021, Mr Giedrius Linkevicius from Bradford appeared at Bradford Magistrates Court for selling illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco at 2 of his businesses, Eko Polski of 131 Legrams Lane, Bradford, BD7 2AA and 7 Days Store of 493 Sticker Lane Bradford BD4 8RB.
Mr Linkevicius pleaded guilty to running a fraudulent business and was sentenced to a 12 month community Order; 100 hours of unpaid work, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £90 and told to make a contribution towards legal costs of £3200.
The company, Leo Food Stores Ltd which ran both businesses also pleaded guilty to all charges. Each business was fined £100 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £34 and told to make a contribution towards legal costs of £3200 resulting in a total fine of £200, a total of £98 victim surcharge and £9,600 towards legal costs.
Both premises were 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 both businesses 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 under the counter and in sophisticated purpose built hydraulic concealments. Warnings to stop their illegal activity were ignored by the business.
The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, funded by the five Public Health departments, is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The initiative uses multi-agency enforcement and community marketing campaigns to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.
To date the programme has taken nearly 7 million illicit cigarettes and two and half tonnes of illicit hand rolling tobacco off the streets of West Yorkshire. With more inspections planned in the coming weeks, these figures are set to increase. Training sessions with thousands of members of the public and hundreds of front line professionals have been delivered to raise awareness about the dangers and wider criminality associated with the supply of illicit tobacco.
Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “Illegal Tobacco is often less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco, and this maintains smokers in their habit and encourages young people to start smoking. 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. It is also linked to organised crime, human trafficking and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds.”
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. This case shows how seriously the courts view these sales and this should serve as an example to others who might break the law and risk children's health. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”
If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/ anonymously.
More information about the campaign can be found on the website and anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at