Two illegal tobacco traders have been ordered to pay substantial fines following prosecution by Sheffield City Council Trading Standards.
278 packs of contraband cigarettes and 23 packs of hand rolling tobacco were seized from two shops during an operation in which seven retail premises were visited by Sheffield City Council Trading Standards, South Yorkshire Police and two sniffer dogs.
Mr Hessen Por of Veeno’s Supermarket, London Road, pleaded guilty to five specimen offences under the Trade Marks Act and was fined £150 and ordered to pay £725 towards costs.
Mr Hassan Mohammed of Abbey Stop Shop, Abbeydale Road pleaded guilty to three specimen offences under the Trade Marks Act and was fined £300 and ordered to pay £623 towards costs.
Councillor Jack Scott said:
“We often act on intelligence received from the public and the success of this operation shows that even the smallest piece of intelligence can make all the difference. Although the traders go to extraordinary lengths to hide their contraband, we are determined to find it. These highly trained tobacco dogs mean that no hiding place is safe.”
The haul included counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco products which cannot be legally sold in the UK.
The dogs helped to find tobacco which these traders had hidden in unusual concealments. One shop had built a hidden compartment with hydraulic infra-red operating mechanism to open and close a false wall panel, the other had them hidden in the top compartment of an electric oven under the hot plates.
The court ordered forfeiture of the products for destruction.
The low price and easy availability of illegal tobacco encourages people to keep smoking, and children and young people are often targeted by unscrupulous traders.
Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco should call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or the confidential Crimestoppers hotline 0800 555111.