A shopkeeper caught selling illegal cigarettes has been ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work and pay almost £1,900 in costs by Brighton magistrates.
Acko Aso Nuri, 30, of Beechwood Court, Tennyson Road, Worthing, was found guilty on seven charges of possessing foreign labelled and unsafe cigarettes which he hid underneath the counter at his premise Worthing Convenience Store, in Chapel Road, Worthing.
He was caught when the shop was raided by West Sussex County Council Trading Standards officers and sniffer dog Yoyo. Mr Nuri was arrested by Sussex Police and the cigarettes were seized.
Richard Sargeant, team manager for Trading Standards, said: “Cheap, illicit tobacco can be attractive to those on low incomes, including young people, who are amongst the priority groups we are particularly keen to support to not start, or to give up smoking.
“Unsafe cigarettes that do not self-extinguish are dangerous and have in the past led to house fires.
“We are grateful to consumers and local businesses who have supplied valuable information and we are committed to tackling this illegal trade”.
Trading Standards officers found 35 pouches, containing 50g in each, and 81 packets, containing 20 individual cigarettes in each, of foreign labelled cigarettes hidden under the counter, which was opened on a mechanism similar to an electronic garage shutter door. The cigarettes were tested and did not self-extinguish as per safety requirements.
Despite Mr Nuri pleading not guilty, magistrates told the shopkeeper to serve a total of 140 hours unpaid work and ordered the seizure and destruction of the goods with a retail value of £1,243. Mr Nuri was also told to pay costs of £1833.22 and a victim surcharge of £60.
David Barling, the council’s cabinet member for residents services with responsibility for Trading Standards, warned: “We are committed to removing illegal cigarettes from the marketplace and will take full and forceful action to do so.
“Catching and prosecuting offenders like Mr Nuri sends out a clear, no nonsense message to others trying to sell cheap, illicit tobacco. Selling fake and illegally imported tobacco can put people’s health at risk and harm legitimate traders.”
If you have any information about illegal tobacco sales, let Trading Standards know by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or by reporting details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport.
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