Luton shopkeeper fined over £6,400 for selling illicit tobacco

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Luton shopkeeper fined for selling illicit tobacco
Illegal tobacco seized from Gramin Bazar Super Shop in Waldeck Road, Luton (Photo: Luton Council)

A shopkeeper in Luton was fined over storage and sales of illicit tobacco, after he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Shahalam Miah, owner of Gramin Bazar Super Shop Limited in Waldeck Road, Luton, on 16 November appeared before Luton Magistrates which ordered him to pay fines totalling £6,415.

Trading Standard Officers found 86 packs of non-duty paid cigarettes, four packs of hand rolling tobacco and 47 niche tobacco products from the shop’s premises during an inspection on 26 February.

Further examination of the products indicated that some were counterfeit and others unsafe, as they would not self-extinguish if discarded. A further two seizures of non-duty paid tobacco products were made followed by several sales, some of which were also counterfeit.

Miah blamed a shop worker for the illegal sales, but admitted that he had turned a blind eye. He was given a 12 month Community Order with 200 hours unpaid work, with costs of £1,325 and a surcharge of £90.

The company was also fined £5,000.

“The sale of illicit tobacco evades tax, making it unfair to honest traders, and the products are far more dangerous than regulated tobacco,” Cllr Abbas Hussain, portfolio holder for Neighbourhood Services and Community Safety at Luton Council, said.

“The ingredients in illicit tobacco are unregulated and cigarettes do not extinguish in the same way, increasing the risk of house fires. The cheaper price also may encourage young people to start smoking and others to continue to smoke.”

Luton Trading Standards said it is currently investigating and gathering information on the sale of illicit tobacco, shisha and vaping products across Luton, adding that the activity is often linked to other wider organised criminal activity.

Anybody with information on premises and individuals selling and storing illicit tobacco can report in confidence on the Keep It Out website.