Illicit Tobacco Dealer Handed Prison Sentence

Tuesday 15 March

Illicit Tobacco Dealer Handed Prison Sentence

On the 15th March 2022, Mr Mohammad Riaz from Bradford appeared at Bradford Crown Court for selling illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from his business, Sunrise Supermarket, 93 Westfield Road, Bradford, BD9 5EF. Mr Riaz previously pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 28 days immediate imprisonment.

The premises was well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) with the Service having received intelligence about the premises supplying illicit and duty free tobacco.

On the 1st June 2021, an inspection was carried out at Sunrise Supermarket, illicit tobacco was seized from within the business, hidden behind the counter, and also from boxes of stock stored on the shelves and from within the  loft space accessed via a pull down ladder in the rear stock room. A total of 32,520 cigarettes and a total of 116 packets of 50g Hand Rolling Tobacco was seized from the shop. A large quantity of cash was also seized which was believed to be the proceeds from the sale of illicit tobacco products.

The owner Mr Mohammad Riaz was present and working behind the counter. The total street value of the seizure is around £12,000. The seized illicit tobacco products were counterfeit, did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packaging and were non duty paid.

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 more than 8 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, “Far from being a victimless crime, the illegal trade in tobacco costs government millions each year in lost revenue, makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime including human trafficking. This sentence should be a warning to others who supply illegal tobacco. 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.”

Councillor Sue Duffy, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “We want to see health improvement in this county and with poor and disadvantageous communities and young people often the target of this cheap tobacco, it does not encourage people to quit. Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products.”

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

www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/