North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards officers have successfully prosecuted a local businessman for having illegal cigarettes on sale in his shop in Ripon.
Mr Rzgar Hamasaleh, of High Skellgate, Ripon, was convicted of supplying illegal tobacco to his customers following a hearing at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on 22 April 2016. The prosecution was brought by North Yorkshire Trading Standards officers after they visited the shop and discovered Gold Mount, Mayfair and Capital cigarettes, all of which were illegal or counterfeit.
The cigarettes were tested and their level of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide was found to be significantly greater than it said on the packaging. The cigarette packets did not bear the required written and picture warnings.
County Council Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards said:
Our trading standards officers have a zero tolerance approach to the supply of illegal tobacco and encourage anyone concerned about any tobacco products they have seen on sale to make a call to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06. They can do this anonymously if they prefer.
This conviction is part of the County Council’s trading standards teams’ on-going work with colleagues in Public Health and North Yorkshire Police to actively reduce the amount of illegal tobacco products available in our communities.
County Councillor David Chance, executive member for public health, said:
Lost tobacco duty robs the taxpayer of money that could be spent on schools and hospitals. In addition, children and young smokers can often be targeted by people who sell illegal cigarettes, making it even easier for them to get hooked on smoking. The people making money out of this do not care who they sell to.
Cheap cigarettes also make it harder for people to quit and remain smoke-free. In addition, the packaging has none of the hard-hitting images and messages designed to remind people of the wide range of health harms smoking can cause that legal cigarette packaging now carries.
Tackling the dangers of legal and illegal tobacco is an important part of the County Council’s work. Smoking continues to be the biggest preventable cause of ill health and early death in Britain and kills over 1,000 people every year in North Yorkshire alone.
The Council has developed a tobacco control strategy based on five key priorities to:
- prevent children and young people from smoking;
- make a smoke-free lifestyle the norm;
- reduce illegal tobacco in the community;
- support smokers to quit; and
- carry out public information campaigns