Luton shopkeeper in court for selling illicit tobacco

A Luton shopkeeper has plead guilty to selling illicit tabacco.

By Laura Hutchinson
Friday, 8th April 2022, 11:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 12:36 pm

Abdul Shahid, 47, of Chatsworth Road, Luton, appeared before Luton Magistrates on April 1 after being caught selling illicit tobacco from his shop A Family Food Limited, in Dunstable Road.

According to the borough council, Luton Trading Standards officers uncovered 21 packs of non-duty paid cigarettes and two packs of hand-rolling tobacco during a follow-up visit after a test purchase in May 2021.

Later that day they found the shop had re-stocked with a further 128 packets of illegal cigarettes.

One of the packets of illicit tobacco.

The council says some of the cigarettes were counterfeit and others unsafe as they would not self-extinguish if discarded.

A further seizure of non-duty paid tobacco products was made, followed by two more test purchases. Items seized were found to be counterfeit.

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In a statement, the council said: “Mr Shahid pleaded guilty to all charges against him. He was given a 12 month Community Order with 150 hours of unpaid work. He was also charged a total of £1345, for £1250 costs and a surcharge of £95.

“In mitigation, Mr Shahid was given credit for an early guilty plea. However, the repeat offences committed by Mr Shadid were judged to be an aggravating factor.”

Councillor Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council, said “Selling illicit tobacco evades tax and is unfair to honest traders. Illicit tobacco is also more dangerous than regulated tobacco. As their ingredients are unregulated, cigarettes do not extinguish in the same way as regulated products. These unregulated products can significantly increase the risk of house fires. The cheaper price of illicit tobacco may also encourage young people to start smoking or continue doing so, whilst the sale of illicit tobacco is often linked to other organised criminal activity.”

Landlords, whose tenants are engaged in the sale of illicit tobacco, will be advised and investigated by trading standards in relation to the proceeds of crime where sales continue, in a bid to crack down and improve standards of trading within Luton. Businesses can also face closure.

Anyone with information on any premises and individuals selling and storing illicit tobacco in Luton can report in confidence here.