Trading Standards stub out illegal tobacco trade

Published Monday, 16th October 2017

Hidden tobacco in secret storage

Southend-on-Sea Trading Standards officers have continued their campaign to remove illegal tobacco and cigarettes from shops in the Borough by securing another prosecution.

On 11 October 2017, Ausrine Kremenskiene and APK Baltic Trade Ltd pleaded guilty to a number of offences of supplying counterfeit, incorrectly marked and unsafe cigarettes and tobacco from their shop at 380 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea.

The business was raided by officers from Southend-on-Sea Trading Standards on 22 March 2017. In total, 3,300 cigarettes and 200g of hand rolling tobacco were seized, with Southend Magistrates Court imposing fines totalling £4,089 and costs of £1639. The illegal goods were also forfeited for destruction.

Testing revealed that a quantity of the cigarettes were unsafe, as they failed to have a reduced ‘ignition propensity’. This is a safety feature in all genuine cigarettes to prevent or reduce the occurrence of house fires, if a cigarette is left alight on furniture.

The business had constructed elaborate concealed storage for the cigarettes and tobacco to avoid detection by Trading Standards officers, namely a compartment built into a false wall. However the Trading Standards officers had a highly trained “sniffer” dog that had no problem identifying the location.

Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Councillor for Transport, Waste and Regulatory Services, said: “We can count this as another victory for our Trading Standards officers, who are working tirelessly to protect the health and safety of our residents.

“The illegal tobacco industry is extremely dangerous, with those involved sometimes adding nasty ingredients to the tobacco. The truth is, you never know what might be inside a counterfeit cigarette.

“The cheap prices that these tobacco products are sold for entice smokers that are unwilling or unable to pay the going price of legal cigarettes, and all too often this includes children.

“We know there is still work to be done but this prosecution sends a clear message that our Trading Standards officers will take a firm stance against anyone involved in this illegal trade. In this case, it has cost a small business nearly £6k. They took a gamble, lost and paid a heavy price.”

This case comes just weeks after Tevfik Yuksel and Baranarda Ltd were fined a total of £4,446 for similar offences.