Hammersmith & Fulham Council has seized 49,400 illegal cigarettes and 33.5kg of unlawful shisha tobacco from various local shops.
The confiscations come as H&F successfully prosecuted three local shops for illegally selling tobacco with fines and awarded costs totaling more than £14,000. The three prosecutions relate to seizures conducted in October 2020 by H&F Trading Standards officers.
“We’re cracking down on illegal tobacco products to help protect residents and level the playing field for local law-abiding businesses,” said Cllr Rebecca Harvey, H&F’s Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Community Safety.
“Fighting crime is a cornerstone of our approach to building a stronger, safer and kinder borough.”
Prima Delicatessen in North End Road, Fulham, was one of three stores successfully prosecuted for selling cigarettes without paying the UK duty charge. Both its manager Andrew Midzio and employee Anita Doroszewicz pleaded guilty at the City of London Magistrates Court to breaching tobacco regulations. Midzio also pled guilty to breaching a licensing condition.
During a return visit from H&F officers two months later, the pair was again foud dealing with illegal cigarettes. Midizo was also prosecuted for breaching licence conditions by selling un-invoiced Polish beer, for which he could not fulfil the licence condition to provide invoices, and which were suspected to be non-UK duty paid.
This not the first time that the store is facing such accusations. Both members of staff were working at the store when previous seizures of unlawful alcohol and tobacco were made in 2017 and 2018. In total, Doroszewicz was required then to pay fines and costs £562 for the offences, and Midzio £3,827, H&F council said on Friday (6).
Sulejman Heder, the owner of Vardar’s in Askew Road, Shepherds Bush, was also convicted for stocking 185 packs of non-UK duty paid cigarettes. Heder pleaded guilty to breaching tobacco sale regulations at the City of London Magistrates Court on Monday 8 August 2022.
He was fined £1,000 and required to pay a further £1,700 in costs and surcharges, as he had previously signed a caution for similar offences in 2018.
Retailer Ali-Reza Sheikhy-Ashrafy of Saffron Supermarket in King Street was also fined after more than 2,270 packs of foreign market cigarettes and 33.5kg of illegal shisha tobacco were found and seized from the flat above his Hammersmith shop.
For this offence, Sheikhy-Ashrafy was fined £4,500 and must also pay a further £3,022.50 in costs and surcharge. Saffron Supermarket is now run by a new owner who bought the business from Sheikhy-Ashrafy shortly before his sentence, stated the council.