Stockport C-store to be stripped off alcohol licence over repeated seizure of illegal tobacco

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A convenience store in Greater Manchester could be stripped of its alcohol licence after being caught selling illegal tobacco for the sixth time in just over three years, stated recent reports.

According to local reports, Trading standards bosses found 400 Richmond cigarettes hidden in empty cereal boxes at Heaton Off Licence, in Heaton Chapel, Stockport, during a raid with a tobacco detection dog.

A sample of the cigarettes was sent for examination which confirmed they were counterfeit. The packaging also failed to comply with regulations which state the colour must be ‘drab dark brown with a matt finish’.

The search, in May this year, came after the Manchester Road shop sold a packet of ‘non-compliant Richmond cigarettes’ during a ‘test purchase’ the previous month. On this occasion an independent surveillance company was sold cigarettes in non-compliant packaging. These were also suspected to be counterfeit.

Illicit tobacco has been seized from the off-licence on four other occasions, dating back to May 2019. Trading standards bosses have now ordered a review of the premises licence, which will be heard by a town hall panel on Monday (24).

Trading standards officers have accuses licence-holder Malik Aftab Hussain of failing to meet his responsibilities around the prevention of crime and disorder and protecting children from harm.

According to a report to a council licensing committee, “Malik Aftab Hussain, in the position of Premises Licence Holder, has no intention of complying with the law, and will continue, as evidence has shown, to break the law and put profit before people’s health”.

“The cigarettes seized by Stockport Trading Standards on the 17th May 2022 were deliberately hidden in cereal boxes, which suggests knowledge that the items were illegal,” it adds. The committee also has a number of other options, including suspending the licence for up to three months and removing the designated premises supervisor (Hussain).