Illegal and unsafe tobacco taken off shelves

Published Wednesday, 4th October 2017

Image of the tobacco and cigarettes seized.

Trading Standards officers have made yet another seizure as part of its on-going crackdown on illicit tobacco.

This follows a spate of successful seizures over the past five months, with Trading Standards officers undertaking multiple raids for illegal tobacco across the Borough, with the support of Essex Police.

On 27 September 2017, Tevfik Yuksel and Baranarda Ltd, trading as North Road Supermarket, 157 North Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, pleaded guilty to a number of offences of supplying counterfeit, incorrectly marked and unsafe cigarettes and tobacco. Southend Magistrates Court imposed fines totalling £4,446 and costs of £2,386. The illegal goods were also forfeited for destruction.

The prosecution followed a Trading Standards raid on 3 February 2017, where they found in excess of 2500 cigarettes and 3.35 kg of hand rolling tobacco, which was seized by officers.

In addition to counterfeit and incorrectly marked cigarettes and tobacco, later testing revealed that a quantity of the cigarettes were unsafe, as they failed to have reduced ‘ignition propensity’. This is a safety feature in all genuine cigarettes to prevent or reduce the risk of house fires if cigarettes are left alight on furniture.

Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Councillor for Transport, Waste and Regulatory Services, said: “Those who deal in illegal tobacco are encouraging people to smoke by providing a cheap source which appeals to a variety of people, including children, who aren’t willing to pay full price.

“Purchasers can also be unaware of the additional dangers hidden within these products, such as the higher risk of causing a house fire.

“We will continue to work tirelessly to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents, and the continued success of our Trading Standards officer’s shows that we are moving in the right direction with this issue.

“Offenders need to know that if they deal in these illegal products, Trading Standards officers will make full use of all the enforcement tools and sanctions at their disposal.”

Why is illegal tobacco an issue?

It is well known that smoking poses a serious danger to health, especially illicit tobacco which is manufactured illegally with little regard to what is put inside it. This cheap tobacco, which can be sold for as little as £3 a packet, also puts children at risk because they are selling harmful goods at pocket money prices, and often hooking children on smoking at a young age. The production and sale of counterfeit cigarettes is also often linked to large-scale organised crime, diverting £3bn in unpaid duty away from public services such as the NHS, and often into the pockets of criminals.