Halifax trader found milking illicit tobacco profits

Calderdale Magistrates Court.
Calderdale Magistrates Court.

A Halifax trader has been prosecuted for having in his possession with intent to supply 2,400 illicit cigarettes and 750g of illicit hand rolling tobacco.

Suliman Seiedi, 29, pleaded guilty to all 17 offences at Calderdale Magistrates Court and was sentenced to a community order, of 100 hours of unpaid work, to be fulfilled over 12 months.

He was ordered to make a contribution of £2,000 to prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £60.

Following a complaint in 2014, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Officers carried out a test purchase of a 50g pack of Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco at Ovenden Polski Sklep, Ovenden Road, Halifax, paying a price far lower than the recommended retail price.

The product did not bear any of the statutory health warnings, ‘Smoking Kills’ or ‘Smoking seriously harms you and others around you’. 

The absence of these warnings is an offence under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. The tobacco was also suspected to be counterfeit which is an offence under Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994.

Moments later officers carried out an inspection and found illegal tobacco products concealed inside empty milk cartons which were on a shelf on display.

Owner of the business, Suliman Seiedi stated in interview that he sublet the business at the time of the seizure, but was unable to provide any details. He was asked to provide the details at a later date but failed to do so.

Suliman pleaded guilty in court to offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, Trade Marks Act 1994, Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991 and the Licensing Act 2003.

The magistrates stated they found it difficult to believe Suliman sublet the business as he only provided a first name and did not know contact details nor did he have any paperwork to prove this. T

hey stressed that a custodial sentence will be given if he is caught next time selling illicit tobacco.

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Illegal Tobacco is often less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco, and this maintains smokers in their habit and encourages young people to start smoking.

“Far from being a victimless crime Illegal Tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people and encourages adults to continue smoking by eroding cost motivation to quit.

“It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds.”

Councillor Alison Miles, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, added: “The supply of illegal tobacco remains a problem in our local communities. While we know smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at pocket money prices, making it easier for children to start smoking.

“It also encourages other crimes in our communities. I would urge anyone with information on sales of illegal tobacco products to contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06”.