A Stourbridge shop keeper who admitted possessing illegal cigarettes for sale has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out unpaid work.
Mazar Abbas, aged 31, pleaded guilty to five offences including two of possessing cigarettes and tobacco without the necessary health warnings, two of possessing counterfeit brands and one of evading excise duty, at Dudley magistrates on June 23.
The court heard that Dudley Council trading standards officers visited Enville Street News in Enville Street, Stourbridge, in November 2015 accompanied by police and a tobacco sniffer dog.
A total of 265 packets of cigarettes and 41 packets of hand rolling tobacco were discovered at the shop and seized for destruction by the council. None had been made for the UK market thereby evading excise duty and the haul also lacked the necessary health warnings. There were also 157 packets of cigarettes which were found to be counterfeit brands. The duty evaded on the haul was estimated to be £1,900.
Abbas was handed a 12 week concurrent custodial sentence for each of the five offences suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and an £80 victim surcharge. The court heard that he was no longer involved in the running of the business.
Councillor Rachel Harris, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said:
“While all smoking kills, illegal tobacco is sold at low prices which makes it easier for children and young smokers to get hooked on smoking. Cheap cigarettes also make it harder for people to quit and remain smoke free. It is not a victimless crime. It also deprives legitimate businesses of revenue and robs the tax payer of money that could be spent on schools and hospitals.”
Residents can help tackle this sort of crime by reporting issues to trading standards on 01384 818871 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.