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    Taunton shopkeeper admits selling counterfeit tobacco

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    A Taunton shopkeeper has pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit tobacco and has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of community work.

    Allen Ahmadi, the proprietor of Wawel Polish shop, admitted selling counterfeit tobacco without the legal health warnings at Taunton Magistrates Court.

    The court heard that when officers from the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service visited and then searched the shop in December 2021, they discovered 1,561 packets of cigarettes and 70 pouches of hand rolling tobacco concealed under the floor, with a sell-on value of £10,800.

    Coffee beans and garlic had been laid over the tobacco in a failed attempt to mask the scent from the tobacco detection dog.

    The Magistrate said that it was ‘a very serious offence’ but acknowledged Ahmadi’s guilty plea and that that this was his first offence.

    Ahmadi was given a Community Order and ordered to pay costs of £400 and a £95 victim surcharge.

    Alex Fry, Operations Manager for Heart of the South West Trading Standards, said: “This illegal tobacco was hidden in a concealment and attempts had been made to prevent detection dogs from finding it. However, that didn’t work, and we are pleased we managed to remove it from supply and take action against the seller.

    “Trading Standards will continue to keep seizing illicit tobacco and take robust enforcement action against rogue traders.”

    Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Lead Member for Communities, Housing and Culture at Somerset Council, said: “Counterfeit tobacco presents a genuine added health risk above and beyond that of legal tobacco.

    “It isn’t subjected to the same quality control checks as legal tobacco and is often found to include high levels of contaminates which are not present in legally produced tobaccO.”

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