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Cigarettes in an ash tray

Acton business fined £3k after illicit tobacco haul

A shop owner in Acton has been fined by a court after he continued to sell illicit tobacco, despite receiving a first and final warning from Ealing’s trading standards.

Illegal cigarettes in a shopping bag
Trading standards officers came across the cigarettes hidden in an industrial oven

Mr Mohammad Arshad, the proprietor of Chilli Spice & Wine in The Vale was at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Tuesday (14 December 2021) where he pleaded guilty to eight offences.

The court heard that trading standards had visited the business in May 2021 where they seized illicit tobacco and alcohol. Mr Arshad was warned by Ealing’s trading standards and licensing team that further activity could result in him being prosecuted.

In July 2021, officers returned and inspected the shop once more and discovered a large amount of illicit tobacco that had been concealed in an industrial oven. The items were considered illicit as they were not in the standardised packaging required by UK law.

In total, 8,760 cigarettes were seized from Mr Arshad’s shop and vehicle, with an estimated street value of £3,000.

Mr Arshad was fined £2,400 (£300 per offence), plus costs of £842 and a victim surcharge of £190, bringing the total cost to £3,432.

In addition, his licence to sell alcohol on the premises has been reviewed and the licensing committee have applied further conditions.

Illegal cigarettes found inside an industrial oven within the store
Around 8,700 cigarettes were found, with an estimated street value of £3,000.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for decent living incomes said: “The supply of illicit tobacco will not be tolerated and we will continue to use every enforcement technique at our disposal to disrupt this activity.

“It’s time that people get the message that whilst it may be cheaper in the short term, there are serious consequences to people’s health as many of these products to do not comply with UK safety and consumer regulations.

“No cigarette is good for you but the illegal tobacco market and the availability of cheap cigarettes make it harder for smokers to quit and remain smoke-free.”

Illicit tobacco is cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco that is counterfeit or has been smuggled into Britain without tax having been paid.

“We’re pleased that our trading standards team has brought another successful prosecution. We will continue to work hard to ensure businesses in Ealing trade safely and fairly by ensuring that local businesses are aware of their legal obligations.”

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