Gantries removed from two retailers convicted of selling illicit tobacco  

AHZ News in Breightmet before and after the removal of gantries by Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco has removed gantries from two retailers in Bolton and Banbury following their convictions in illegal tobacco cases.

Mr Din, of AHZ News, Oasthouse, Sandhurst Drive, Breightmet and Mr Malhotra, of Rowley’s Food, The Fairway, Banbury will no longer receive any sales support from the company, Imperial said.

Din was convicted by magistrates for possession of counterfeit tobacco after pleading guilty to a total six offences relating to 15 packets of Richmond cigarettes, 9 packets of Lambert & Butler and 7 packets of hand-rolling tobacco.

A raid by local Trading Standards resulted in his premises licence being revoked by Bolton Council and he was ordered to carry out 70 hours of unpaid work. In addition, Din was banned from being a company director for five years and ordered to pay costs of £2,000 towards Bolton Council’s prosecution costs, plus an £85 victim surcharge.

Malhotra was ordered to pay back £75,000 after local Trading Standards seized nearly 3,000 illegal cigarettes. As a result of the conviction, Malhotra and the company was sentenced to fines of £2,450 each and ordered to pay £75,000, alongside £6,220.70 in prosecution costs.

James Hall, Anti-Illicit Trade Manager, Imperial Tobacco UK, commented: “We are fully supportive of law enforcement agencies in their endeavour to demonstrate that illicit tobacco trade will not be tolerated. It harms honest retailers and damages communities. We applaud the local Trading Standards teams for securing these convictions, whilst also recognising the wider success Trading Standards authorities are achieving across the UK in the ongoing fight against illegal tobacco.”

Hall added that Imperial continues to assist in the reporting and investigation of these activities wherever possible.

“Our dedicated anti-illicit trade app, SARA, launched in January 2018, has now received over 2858 reports of potential illegal trade activity which we have shared with law enforcement. We are aware that seizures have been made in premises reported in 259 of these and 130 social media posts have also been removed,” he explained.

“It’s great to see news of these latest seizures of illicit tobacco by Trading Standards. However, Trading Standards can only act on information regarding illicit tobacco trade when it’s reported to them. Recent figures show a staggering 78 per cent of those who are aware of illicit tobacco being sold in the last 12 months haven’t reported it. To truly address the problem, we need everyone to be alert and take action by reporting any suspected illicit activity to the relevant authorities.

“We urge everyone to contact the appropriate authorities with concerns of illegal tobacco activity in their locality, to speak to their Imperial rep about SARA or phone Imperial Tobacco directly on 0800 0495992.”