With Hammer & Tongs: Why Stopping Contraband Tobacco Dealers Should be a Law Enforcement Priority

Editor’s Note: Illicit/contraband/untaxed tobacco vendors sell cheap cigarettes to kids.

From: West Mercia Police

Leaminhgton shopkeeper prosecuted for selling counterfeit cigarettes to children

Trading Standards, Warwickshire

  • Incident number: Trading Standards Press Release
  • Date: 11/05/2017

The owner of International Mini Market, (40 High St. Leamington Spa), Arsalan Abdulbakht, has been successfully prosecuted after the store sold counterfeit cigarettes to children.

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Officers mounted the investigation and subsequent prosecution after seizing counterfeit cigarettes on sale in the store in May 2016 and receiving intelligence that the store was selling cigarettes to children.

On 7 July 2016, Trading Standards Officers asked a fifteen year old child volunteer to attempt to purchase cigarettes from the store. The young volunteer was sold a packet of counterfeit Marlboro Gold cigarettes for £5, almost half the price of a genuine packet.

Janet Faulkner, Head of Warwickshire Trading Standards Service said:

“Not only was our child volunteer sold cigarettes, which is bad enough, they were also sold counterfeits at pocket money prices!”

“We know that most adult smokers begin smoking as children and when cigarettes are sold cheaply, whether they are fake or genuine, this makes it easier for children to obtain them and take up the habit.”

“Warwickshire Trading Standards will continue to carry out these important enforcement exercises to protect the health of Warwickshire’s children and young people.”

Following the successful test purchase, Trading Standards Officers returned to the store and seized all of the tobacco on the premises as suspected counterfeit goods. Some was in cupboards behind the counter and some was hidden in speakers on the windowsill of the shop. The court later ordered these to be forfeited and destroyed.

At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Monday 2nd May 2017, Arsalan Abdulbakht (age 27 of Buckley Road Leamington Spa) t/a International Mini Market was found guilty and sentenced to a 12 month Community Order with 150 hours unpaid work, given a 7 pm to 7 am curfew for 3 months with electronic monitoring and ordered to pay full costs of £4438.34 and a £60 victim surcharge.

Warwickshire Trading Standards were supported in the prosecution by officers from Warwick District Council Environmental Health and Licensing

The Magistrates stated that they found all five prosecution witnesses credible and they believed their version of events.

Warwickshire retailers requiring help or guidance relating to the sale of age restricted products can contact Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

For more details on NHS Stop Smoking Services in Warwickshire go to www.quit4good.co.uk or phone 0800 085 2917.


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