Luton shop owner fined over storage and sales of illicit tobacco
He blamed a shop worker for the offences
A Luton shopkeeper blamed his staff after illicit tobacco was found in his shop.
The owner of Gramin Bazar Super Shop Limited in Waldeck Road, Luton, pleaded guilty to selling illicit tobacco from his shop, resulting in fines totalling £6,415.
Shahalam Miah appeared before Luton Magistrates on November 16 to face charges of storing and selling illicit tobacco.
During an inspection of the shop on February 26, Trading Standard Officers found 86 packs of non-duty paid cigarettes; 4 packs of hand rolling tobacco and 47 niche tobacco products. Some were found to be counterfeit and others unsafe, as they would not self-extinguish if discarded. A further two seizures of non-duty paid tobacco products were made followed by several sales, some of which were also counterfeit.
In mitigation, Miah said an employee was responsible and admitted that he had turned a blind eye. He was given a 12 month Community Order with 200 hours unpaid work, with costs of £1,325 and a surcharge of £90. The company was also fined £5,000.
Cllr Abbas Hussain, portfolio holder for Neighbourhood Services and Community Safety at Luton Council, said: “The sale of illicit tobacco evades tax, making it unfair to honest traders, and the products are far more dangerous than regulated tobacco.
"The ingredients in illicit tobacco are unregulated and cigarettes do not extinguish in the same way, increasing the risk of house fires.
"The cheaper price also may encourage young people to start smoking and others to continue to smoke.”
Luton Trading Standards is currently investigating and gathering information on the sale of illicit tobacco, shisha and vaping products across Luton to protect the health of the public. The sale of illicit tobacco is often linked to other wider organised criminal activity.
Landlords, whose tenants are engaged in the sale of illicit tobacco will also be advised and investigated by trading standards in relation to proceeds of crime, where sales continue in a bid to crack down and improve standards of trading within Luton. Businesses can also face closure.
Anybody with information on premises and individuals selling and storing illicit tobacco in Luton can report in confidence here https://keep-it-out.co.uk.