Hundreds of illegal cigarettes packets seized from Bolton off licences

By Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter

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Photo: iStock

Hundreds of packets of counterfeit cigarettes have been seized as part of a council clampdown on illicit tobacco in Bolton.

The illegal goods were found under the counter, in back store rooms and in one case inside a microwave, at off licences across the borough.

Trading stadard officers said they found two packets of Richmond cigarettes and one pack of Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco concealed underneath the sweets display at Causeway Convenience Store in Farnworth.

They also found three sleeves of Richmond cigarette packets inside a microwave during a visit in July, according to a council notice.

An empty packet of Malboro cigarettes and an opened packet of Regal cigarettes with three cigarettes left in it were found behind the counter.

In total, 46 full packets of cigarettes and 11 packs of hand rolling tobacco were seized at the store which is also known as Mini Mart.

None were in plain packaging and some had warnings which were not in English.

A total of 139 packets of cigarettes and seven packets of hand rolling tobacco was seized at Sultania News in Halliwell Road during a visit in March.

Officers said they found a small grey drawer unit containing illegal tobacco behind the till area and a large carboard box full of illegal tobacco in the back area of the premises.

These tobacco products were seized as they were not in plain packaging and some did not have warnings in English.

Bolton Council officers visited M&M Mini Market in Halliwell Road with tobacco detection dog on the same day.

During the visit they took a black bag from the man who was present on the premises who said he was the owner of the business.

When examined, the black bag was found to contain six pouches of hand rolling tobacco and 17 packets of cigarettes which were not legal for sale in the UK, according to a council notice.

As a result, the products were seized by trading standards officers.

Officers also seized 24 packets of cigarettes, all of which were found to be counterfeit, and seven packets of hand rolling tobacco at AHZ News in Sandhurst Drive.

The premises licence holder, Mr Zeashan Muhammad Din, attended a formal interview with trading standards officers in May.

During the interview, Mr Din said that he knew the tobacco was illegal and that it was not for sale in the shop, according to a council notice.

Mr Din said that it was bought from Holland as a gift by family members and that he smoked it himself.

Mr Din was asked if the open packets of cigarettes found under the counter were used to sell single cigarettes and he said no.

Bolton Council Trading Standards Service officers visited The Corner Shop in Macdonald Avenue, Farnworth on July 2 with a tobacco detection dog.

A total of 45 packets of cigarettes were found inside a carrier bag behind the counter and eight packs of hand-rolling tobacco were found by the search dog concealed inside a coat behind the counter.

The tobacco products appeared to be illegal to sell as, apart from six of the packs of hand rolling tobacco, they were not in plain packaging.

The six packs of Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco which were in plain packaging were sent for examination and were confirmed as counterfeit.

The majority of the tobacco seized was not in plain packaging and some had warnings not in English.

A council notice said: “One of the licensing objectives is the prevention of crime and disorder. A business which is supplying tobacco is committing criminal offences and cannot be said to be complying with this objective.”

The premises licences of each of the properties are now under review.

Councillors will decide whether any action should be taken against the licence holders when committees start meeting again once social distancing measures during the coronavirus outbreak are lifted.