A trader at a food shop in High Wycombe town centre has been sentenced after counterfeit cigarettes and foreign-labelled tobacco were found to be for sale.
On Saturday 19th January 2019, police officers and Wycombe District Council licensing officers visited the Anatolia Food Centre in Oxford Street, High Wycombe where they found counterfeit cigarettes and foreign labelled tobacco for sale.
Several foreign labelled tobacco products were discovered under the till counter at the front of the store. These were seized as they did not bear the correct labelling.
Officers then spotted a staff member from the store loading the boot of a black Vauxhall Zafira, registered to the shopkeeper, with boxes and large quantities of alcohol, at the rear of Anatolia Food Centre.
The police and licensing officers took a closer look inside the car and found tobacco and cigarettes in a large cardboard box and carrier bags. They seized six 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco and 428 packets of 20 cigarettes with a retail value of around £4,500.
When Trading Standards officers picked up the investigation they found all the seized goods broke the law. None of the products bore the required statutory warnings in the correct format. None of the packaging complied with the legal requirements of the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations.
In total 102 packets of the cigarettes were found to be counterfeit however 318 packets of cigarettes and the hand rolling tobacco were genuine products but destined for Bulgaria, Ukraine, Poland, and Macedonia.
The shopkeeper told officers the cigarettes were left in the shop by a Chinese or Nepalese customer called Fang, but the phone number he provided proved to be an unregistered pay as you go phone.
On Thursday 5th February 2020, at High Wycombe Magistrates Court, shopkeeper Goldi Singh Gurwara of the Anatolia Food Centre in Oxford Street was sentenced to a 12 month community order. The case was brought by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards.
At an earlier hearing, Mr Gurwara admitted six charges, three relating to the possession of cigarettes bearing infringing trademarks, namely Richmond, Mayfair and Marlboro. A further three charges related to failures of the tobacco to bear the statutory warnings and be in packaging that was the correct colour, dull green.
The court heard that Mr Gurwara, of previous good character, had unsuccessfully appealed against the suspension of his alcohol licence for three months for matters arising from the same visit during which the tobacco was seized.
Magistrates ordered Mr Gurwara to do 100 hours of unpaid work during the 12 month community order and ordered him to pay £1,500 costs and an £85 victims surcharge. They ordered all the seized tobacco and cigarettes to be destroyed.
Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: ‘Let this case be a warning to anyone tempted to deal in illegal cigarettes and tobacco that our Trading Standards officers take their role of enforcement very seriously.
All tobacco is harmful, but the supply of illegal cigarettes seriously undermines the drive to reduce smoking, it fuels organised criminality and it’s often a gateway for young people to becoming addicted to a habit which prematurely kills over half its users.‘
Anyone who has reason to believe that a trader is selling cheap and illegal tobacco can make a report to the Buckinghamshire Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 6 999.
Source of article : Press release from Buckinghamshire County Council.