Illicit Tobacco Dealer Sentenced

Tuesday 26 April

On the 25th April 2022, Ms Daria Wojciechowska from Calderdale appeared at Bradford Crown Court for selling illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from the business, Euro Market, 206-208 Queens Road, Halifax, HX1 4NE. Ms Wojciechowska was sentenced to a 12 month community order with a requirement to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work. She is also required to pay £700 towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £85.

Ms Wojciechowska became the manager of the business from August 2017.

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.

Three successful test purchases and three seizures of illicit tobacco were made between the 29th November 2017 and 6th June 2018.

In March 2018, officers from WYTSS carried out an inspection at the store. A total of 4,660 illicit cigarettes and 1,350 grams of illicit hand rolling tobacco were found hidden in the wall near the deli counter. Ms Wojciechowska attended later and stated that she was the manager of the business.

A search of the shop floor was conducted and keys were found to give access to a property nearby. A significant amount of illicit tobacco was recovered from a first floor room. Total amount was 127,820 illicit cigarettes and 6,500 grams of illicit hand rolling tobacco. The illicit tobacco products were seized.

In June 2018, an inspection of the shop was carried out in order to check if the business was now compliant or still selling illicit tobacco. During the inspection, 1,400 illicit cigarettes and 1,350 grams of illicit hand rolling tobacco were seized. Ms Wojciechowska was present and working.

A couple of days later, another inspection of the shop was carried out and during the inspection 1,400 illicit cigarettes and 1,350 grams of illicit hand rolling tobacco were seized. Ms Wojciechowska was present and working.

The total amount of illicit tobacco seized had a street value of approximately £45,000 with more than £50,000 in duty being evaded. All the items seized were not in the standardised format as required by The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and were in violation of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 as the prescribed health warnings were not present in English. Some of the seized illicit tobacco products were also confirmed as counterfeit.

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 9 million illicit cigarettes and 3 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, “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 and organised crimes. 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 and takes advantage of cash-strapped families. It is great that another illicit tobacco dealer has been sentenced.”

If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco please contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133 anonymously.

Anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at

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