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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Shop ordered to pay almost £8,000 after Trading Standards visit uncovers illicit tobacco

A city centre store has been fined after it was found to be selling counterfeit cigarettes and illegal vapes.

Westgate International Food on Westgate was ordered to pay almost £8,000 after an appearance at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The case was brought by Trading Standards, and the nine charges relate to a visit to the store in late 2022.

Trading Standards officers had received complaints that the store was selling cheap, illicit tobacco, and officers visited the shop in November that year.

After a search of the business, they found 161 packs of illicit cigarettes and 33 packs of hand rolling tobacco, some of which had fake Lambert and Butler and Richmond branding.

They also found 307 disposable electronic cigarettes which were illegal in the UK as their tank capacity was in excess of the maximum permitted 2 ml. Some products found in the store had 10 ml tanks.

All the illicit items were seized.

Trading Standards said the cigarettes were not in plain packaging or carrying the Health Warning in English.

The court heard that the business – Westgate International Food Limited, accepted the offer to be formally interviewed. During this interview the company Director Kasm Jaf, 47 of Westgate, stated he was on holiday at the time of the sale and was attempting to sell the business.

He said he had left his manager in charge of running the shop in his absence, but pleaded guilty to knowing that the cigarettes and tobacco were illegal.

The business pleaded guilty to the nine offences on the basis they had not taken steps to ensure the e-cigarettes on sale were legal.

Magistrates fined the company £3,333 and ordered it to pay a surcharge of £1,333 and costs to Trading Standards of £3,243.

After the case David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Services Team 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.”

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