Warn­ing to dodgy cig sellers: You’ll lose your busi­ness

Sunday Sun - - News - MIKE BROWN Re­porter [email protected]­plc.com

ROGUE shop­keep­ers tempted to sell il­le­gal to­bacco are be­ing warned they could lose their liveli­hood.

North East busi­nesses face more than a fine for sell­ing smug­gled or fake to­bacco – they could also lose their al­co­hol li­cence and face huge tax bills from HMRC.

And those caught could also be closed down by lo­cal coun­cils or the po­lice for caus­ing a com­mer­cial and health nui­sance.

Fig­ures show rogue shops are in­creas­ingly ac­count­able for sell­ing dodgy fags in the North East.

In 2009, shops were the main source for 1 in 20 il­le­gal pur­chases, but by 2017 that had in­creased to one in four sales.

Pri­vate ad­dresses, or tab houses, were still the main source for 46% of il­le­gal to­bacco buy­ers.

Fresh is now launch­ing its Keep It Out cam­paign to en­cour­age North Eastern­ers to re­port sales of il­le­gal to­bacco, claim­ing it helps get chil­dren hooked on smok­ing.

All peo­ple need to do is visit keep-it-out.co.uk to tell trading stan­dards anony­mously – and around 540 peo­ple have al­ready made a re­port in the North East since last Oc­to­ber.

Ailsa Rut­ter OBE, direc­tor of Fresh, said: “The trade in smug­gled and fake to­bacco is linked to or­gan­ised crime and en­ables kids to smoke.

“Most peo­ple do not want it in their lo­cal com­mu­nity and it is great to see more and more peo­ple giv­ing in­for­ma­tion to help keep it out.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of shop­keep­ers are hon­est and are ap­palled by the sale of il­le­gal to­bacco.

“How­ever, the law is catch­ing up with the dis­hon­est few who think they can get away with it.”

The Anti-So­cial Be­hav­iour, Crime and Polic­ing Act 2014 gives lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and po­lice pow­ers to is­sue clo­sures no­tices for premises found sell­ing il­le­gal to­bacco, and they can also ap­ply to courts for clo­sure or­ders for up to three months.

Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil’s Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion Ser­vice say they take their role in tack­ling the sup­ply of il­licit to­bacco in the town se­ri­ous- ly, and of­fi­cers reg­u­larly re­ceive in­tel­li­gence about where il­licit to­bacco is be­ing sold from.

In the last two years, the coun­cil has:

Re­ceived more than 150 pieces of in­tel­li­gence about il­licit to­bacco sales

Car­ried out 21 seizures with 133,379 cig­a­rettes and 86.79kg of hand rolled to­bacco re­cov­ered.

Led 10 pros­e­cu­tions re­sult­ing in fines and com­mu­nity or­ders.

Closed six premises for min­i­mum of three months.

And ac­tion taken by HMRC against peo­ple sup­ply­ing il­licit to­bacco in Mid­dles­brough and re­sulted in eight peo­ple be­ing sent to prison for a total of 26 years.

Coun Ju­lia Rostron, Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for adult so­cial care and pub­lic health, said: “We are se­ri­ous about a tack­ling the sale of il­licit to­bacco in Mid­dles­brough.

“We want our com­mu­ni­ties to be safe and il­licit to­bacco brings wider, se­ri­ous crime is­sues into our neigh­bour­hoods.

“Our message to the Mid­dles­brough pub­lic is very clear – il­licit to­bacco may be cheap but it costs your lo­cal com­mu­nity by bring­ing in other wider or­gan­ised crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity which you do not want in your neigh­bour­hood.

“Our message to those who are sup­ply­ing or sell­ing the to­bacco is also clear – we are reg­u­larly given the names of shops sell­ing il­licit to­bacco and we have a list of those we will be tar­get­ing in our next op­er­a­tion.”

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about houses, shops or pubs sell­ing il­le­gal to­bacco can call the il­le­gal to­bacco hot­line at 0300 999 00 00. Hid­den cig­a­rettes dis­cov­ered dur­ing a raid in Mid­dles­brough last year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.