Mr Saman Amin, proprietor of Chapel Street Convenience Store in Halton, Leeds, faced sentencing at Leeds Crown Court after admitting to selling illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco from his business. The court handed down a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Chapel Street Convenience Store had already come under scrutiny by the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) due to multiple complaints about the supply of illicit and duty-free tobacco products on its premises.
The investigation that led to Mr Amin’s sentencing began on 3rd September 2021 when authorities discovered and seized illicit tobacco concealed behind the sales counter of the store. The items found included 296 packets of cigarettes and 62 pouches of 50g hand-rolling tobacco.
Further searches in a nearby storeroom uncovered additional illicit tobacco hidden in cupboards and scattered on the floor. The stash seized from the storeroom amounted to 8,655 packets of cigarettes and 1,918 pouches of 50g hand-rolling tobacco.
In total, law enforcement confiscated 179,020 cigarettes and 99kg of hand-rolling tobacco, which were identified as a mix of counterfeit and smuggled products lacking statutory health warnings and standardised packaging. These products were also non-duty paid, resulting in a substantial loss of potential excise duty, estimated at over £90,000. The total genuine comparative value of the seized tobacco products exceeded £160,000.
The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, which receives funding from the five Public Health departments, played a pivotal role in bringing this illicit trade to light. The program focuses on educating the public about the dangers of tobacco use and investigating traders involved in the distribution of cheap and illicit tobacco products. It employs a multi-agency enforcement approach alongside community marketing campaigns to combat the prevalence of the illicit tobacco trade.
West Yorkshire’s initiative has achieved remarkable success so far, confiscating over 10 million illicit cigarettes and 3 tonnes of illicit hand-rolling tobacco from the streets. With ongoing inspections scheduled for the upcoming weeks, authorities expect these figures to rise. Moreover, the program has conducted extensive training sessions for thousands of members of the public and hundreds of frontline professionals to raise awareness about the risks associated with the supply of illicit tobacco products and their links to wider criminal activities.
Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “Far from being a victimless crime, the illegal trade in tobacco costs government millions each year in lost revenue, makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime including human trafficking. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “All tobacco is harmful, but the supply of illegal tobacco seriously undermines the drive to reduce smoking, fuels organised criminality and is often a gateway for young people to becoming addicted to a habit which prematurely kills over half its users.”
If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco please contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133 anonymously.
Anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at