We continue court clamp-down on illegal tobacco sellers

5 September 2013

A shop owner who sold illegal tobacco from her Heanor store has been ordered to pay £1,110 in fines and costs after pleading guilty at court.

Melanie Clinton, of Sutherland Road, Derby, appeared before the city's magistrates yesterday (Weds 4 Sept) where she pleaded guilty to four charges relating to foreign labelled hand rolling tobacco.

Our trading standards team successfully prosecuted Clinton for the offences which took place at her shop, Melanie's Mini Market in Loscoe Road, Heanor.

Clinton (23) was fined £50 for each of the four charges and £100 for each of two charges relating to larger quantities of cigarettes. She was also ordered to pay £670 costs and a £40 victim surcharge.

The court heard that our trading standards officers received information from the police last December suggesting Clinton was selling illicit tobacco 'under the counter'.

A trading standards officer carried out a test purchase at the store later that month and was sold a packet of Marlboro cigarettes for £4.50. A legitimate pack would cost around £8. The cigarettes were found to be smuggled into the UK with no duty paid on them.

Problems arising from this kind of illicit sale include unfair competition to legitimate local traders who pay duty and have to sell products at full price and reducing the effect of the government's high-price tobacco strategy aimed at reducing the number of people who smoke.

Our officers returned to Clinton's store in January this year and seized six different types of foreign labelled tobacco including hand rolling brand names Drum, Golden Virginia, Amber Leaf and Cutters Choice and L&M Link and Palace cigarettes.

Tobacco Products Safety Regulations require tobacco to be labelled in English with written and illustrated warnings of specified wording and size to alert smokers to the dangers and deter new smokers from taking up the habit.

Our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said:

"This is yet another successful court case which highlights our clear message to traders who sell illegal tobacco that we will not tolerate it. They will be caught and they will pay the penalties.

"We have a duty to protect consumers and legitimate traders as well as doing what we can to discourage people from smoking and are committed to continuing our work to clamp down on this illicit trade.

"We will continue to take a consistently hard line against retailers who break the law, risk people's health and threaten the livelihoods of honest businesses."

Complaints to our trading standards team about the sale of illegal tobacco doubled from 30 in 2011 to 60 last year. So far this year there have been 100 complaints.

Action by our team saw a 22 per cent rise in seizures of counterfeit tobacco across the county in 2012. So far this year the team has seized 741,000 illicit cigarettes and 707kg of hand rolling tobacco.

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco should call Citizens' Advice Consumer Service on 08456 040506 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

We recently approved our 'Enforcement Programme for Tobacco Products' setting out our commitment to reducing smoking and stopping the illicit tobacco trade.



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