Third Illicit Tobacco Dealer Sent To Prison

Wednesday 23 March

Third Illicit Tobacco Dealer Sent To Prison

On the 22nd March 2022, Mr Karzan Abdullah from Huddersfield appeared at Leeds Crown Court for selling illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from his business, Town News Huddersfield Ltd trading as Town News of 8A John William Street Huddersfield HD1 1BA. Mr Abdullah previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 8 weeks immediate imprisonment. Mr Abdullah is the third illicit tobacco dealer to be sent to prison this year.

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.

Seven successful test purchases and three seizures of illicit tobacco were made between the 26th September 2019 and 19th March 2021.

On the 10th October 2019, an inspection was carried out at Town News and counterfeit and illicit tobacco was seized from within the business. Illicit tobacco was hidden within a sophisticated concealment built into a tiled wall within the small rear stockroom. A total of 9,460 cigarettes and 54 packets of 50g hand rolling tobacco was recovered. A large quantity of cash was also seized which was believed to be the proceeds from the sale of illicit tobacco products.

On the 17th March 2020 an inspection was carried out at Town News and counterfeit and illicit tobacco was again seized from within the business. A total of 1,480 cigarettes and 6 X 50g Hand Rolling Tobacco was seized from within a concealment in the small rear stockroom.

Warnings to stop the illegal activity were ignored and on the 19th March 2021, another inspection was carried out at Town News. Illicit tobacco was hidden in the small rear stockroom above the door. A total 5,980 cigarettes & 27 packets x 50g Hand Rolling Tobacco was seized.

The total street value of the seizures is around £8,000.

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, “All tobacco – both legal and illegal – kills half of all long term smokers. Children and young smokers are often targeted by people who sell illegal cigarettes, making it even easier for them to get hooked on smoking. The people making money out of this do not care who they sell to. 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 and the other two traders who have been sent to prison recently should serve as a warning to others who supply illegal tobacco.”

Councillor Habiban Zaman, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products. 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 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/

 

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact Babul Hussain - babul.hussain@wyjs.org.uk

Images are of some of the seized items

Workshops about the dangers of cheap and illicit tobacco can be delivered to schools, members of the public and front line professionals.