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Trading Standards warning to businesses selling illicit tobacco after shop owner is fined

A Cardiff shop owner has been successfully prosecuted by Shared Regulatory Services after Trading Standards Officers found him to be selling fake cigarettes.

January 29th, 2020

In November 2018, officers attended the Santos Shop, 323 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff and seized tobacco products which were counterfeit and did not carry the required health warnings.

The case was listed before Cardiff Magistrates Court on the 19th December 2019. The defendant pleaded guilty to 8 offences under Cigarettes in packetthe Trade Marks Act 1994 and one offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

In mitigation, the defendant claimed he was struggling with money and this was an easier way to make profit.  The magistrates fined him a total of £580, ordered him to pay costs of £260 and a victim surcharge of £30.

In Wales, 45% of smokers have been offered illegal tobacco, with 70% of buyers strongly agreeing that it allows them to smoke when they can’t afford it. Many illegal cigarettes are also not fire safe, as they do not extinguish by themselves if left unattended, which makes them much more likely to cause a fire.

Chair of the Joint Committee for Shared Regulatory Services, Cllr Eddie Williams, said: “The ill effects of tobacco smoke on human health is well known, but our Officers are now seizing illegal cigarettes and rolling tobacco which is sold much cheaper than legal tobacco. Many smokers say that being able to buy these products cheaply makes it harder for them to quit.

“The sale of cheap tobacco makes it easier for children and young people to start smoking and often leads to long term addiction which impacts severely on their health, as well as those around them.

“Our Officers will seize tobacco products which they believe to be counterfeit, and will prosecute individuals who fail to abide by the law. We urge residents to contact us if they are aware of any shops or individuals selling tobacco which is clearly far cheaper than the genuine products.”

Consumers should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service to report such issues, by calling 03454 040506.

How to recognise illegal tobacco:

• packets with no picture health warnings

• packets with foreign language health warnings and unusual or foreign brand names

• stock kept out of sight in shops and away from the regular tobacco display cabinet

• low cost compared to normal cigarettes – for example, a pack of 20 illegal cigarettes can cost as little as £3.50

• availability in unusual locations, including pubs, market stalls, ice cream or fast food vans, outside shops

• selling single cigarettes, often to children