ILLEGAL TOBACCO SELLER GIVEN JAIL TERM
On the 26th October 2018, Mrs Wioletta Beata Petzold, of Wentworth Drive, Wakefield, WF4 1LH appeared at Leeds Crown Court for selling a large quantity of non-duty paid Cigarettes and Hand Rolling Tobacco at her business, Koala Delicatessen Ltd, Bramley Shopping Centre, Leeds. Mrs Petzold pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 10 Month Prison Sentence, suspended for 1 year. An additional order was also made for her to do 150 hours unpaid work to cover the prosecution costs.
The premises of Koala Delicatessen Ltd is well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTS) with the Service first receiving complaints about the premises supplying illicit, duty free tobacco in November 2016. The store was visited and issued with a warning for a quantity of illegal tobacco that was recovered.
Despite the advice and warning, in 2017 and 2018 WYTS continued to receive complaints that the business was still dealing in illegal tobacco. WYTS accompanied by officers from Leeds West Neighbourhood Policing Team visited Koala Delicatessen Ltd 10 times and obtained illegal tobacco which did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packaging and were not duty paid.
Illegal tobacco was found hidden in the bins, the fridge, cabinets, under the counter, vehicles and concealed on her person in specialist made clothing.
Over 60,000 illicit cigarettes and almost 20kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco found hidden were seized. The amount of excise duty owed to HMRC on this quantity of tobacco products amounts to £19,529.
The inspections and prosecution were part of The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme which is funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire 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.
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. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds. This significant prison sentence should serve as a warning to those who are involved in this illegal trade – our tobacco team, supported by Public Health across West Yorkshire will continue to identify those operating illegally.”
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Governance and Audit Sub-Committee, said “The supply of illegal tobacco remains a problem in our local communities. While we know smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at pocket money prices, it is easier for children to start smoking. It also encourages other crimes in our communities.
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.”
For further information please contact:
Ian Newbury, Tobacco Control Lead Officer