14 April 2022
The dangers of illegal tobacco have been highlighted after hundreds of packets of illicit cigarettes were uncovered during an inspection at a Northampton shop.
Officers from Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and HM Revenue and Customs seized the cigarettes together with a number of tobacco pouches after finding them in an electronic hide during a visit to UK Monopol in St Leonard’s Road, Far Cotton, on 3 March 2020.
Many of the items falsely carried the names and logos of well-known brands, while hundreds of others carried no English-language health warnings, as is required by law.
It was also discovered that a number of the cigarettes were not made with fire-safe paper, meaning they would be more likely to cause fires if left unattended.
At Northampton Magistrates’ Court today (14 April) the shop’s owner Xoshawi Kalend pleaded guilty to five offences following a successful prosecution by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC).
The charges included: possessing with intent to sell 86 packets of cigarettes carrying false branding; possessing 239 packets and four tobacco pouches that were not labelled with the proper warnings; and failing to act with due care to ensure that 36 packets of cigarettes complied with safety requirements.
Magistrates fined Mr Kalend £6,388 which included a contribution to prosecution costs and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £189.
Mr Kalend had pleaded guilty to five similar charges in July 2019 and received a financial penalty of £3,000 including a contribution to prosecution costs.
Tina Collett, Prevention Team Leader for the Home Fire Safety Team at Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: "Some illegal cigarettes are not self-extinguishable and burn at higher temperatures, making them a much higher fire risk.
"Tragically three people have died in Northamptonshire as a result of smoking related fires over the last four years. If smoking, ensure cigarettes are put right out, never smoke in bed and use a proper ashtray to extinguish a cigarette, never a wastepaper basket."
Councillor David Smith, WNC's Cabinet Member for community safety and engagement, and regulatory services, said: “The import and sale of illegal tobacco causes serious harm in our communities, undermining public health, facilitating the supply of tobacco to young people, and damaging legitimate businesses which are unable to compete.
"It also deprives the UK of vital revenue which could be used to fund essential public services.
"The Trading Standards team at West Northamptonshire Council take a very tough stance on the issue, and I hope this prosecution sends a strong message that if shopkeepers deal in illegal tobacco, they should expect to face legal action."
People can help stop the harm caused by illegal tobacco by reporting its sale to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.