On the 5 October 2023, Mr Muhammad Nabaaz from Bradford appeared at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court for sentencing as the Director of Wibsey Local Ltd, having previously pleaded guilty to offences relating to having in his possession counterfeit cigarettes in breach of trademark rules.
The cigarettes were not in standardised packaging and did not bear a Health Warning in English.
Mr Nabaaz had also pleaded guilty to having available to supply disposable electronic cigarettes which had a tank capacity more than the prescribed 2 ml. The offences had taken place at his business on 8 November 2021.
At the previous hearing in May 2023 Mr Nabaaz pleaded guilty on the Company’s behalf and the company was fined £8000, with £5000 costs and a Victim Surcharge of £190.
The offences were committed under The Trade Marks Act 1994, The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and The Tobacco and Related Product Regulations 2016.
Mr Nabaaz, as the responsible business Director, was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work to be carried out within twelve months.
Consideration was made for his early guilty plea. He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £95 and costs of £960.
A Forfeiture Order to enable the seized items to be destroyed was also granted by the Court.
The case was launched after West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) receiving complaints about the premises selling illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.
In November 2021 officers from the Cheap and Illicit Tobacco team at West Yorkshire Trading Standards visited the premises and discovered approximately 600 packs of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco and approximately 2000 oversize disposable electronic cigarettes.
West Yorkshire Police visited in January 2022 and further illicit tobacco was seized by them and passed to West Yorkshire Trading Standards to process as part of the initial investigation.
In mitigation Mr Nabaaz admitted, through his solicitor in court, that he knew that the cigarettes and tobacco were illegal, but as the disposable electronic cigarettes were openly on sale at the wholesalers in Manchester he considered them to be legal and therefore he displayed them openly in his shop.
David Strover, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “Far from being a victimless crime, the illegal trade in tobacco costs government millions each year in lost revenue, makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime including human trafficking. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”
Councillor Sue Duffy, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “All tobacco is harmful, but the supply of illegal tobacco seriously undermines the drive to reduce smoking, fuels organised criminality and is often a gateway for young people to becoming addicted to a habit which prematurely kills over half its users.”