Mr. Tariq Ameen, a resident of Huddersfield, recently appeared before the Kirklees Magistrates Court on the 4th of August, 2023. He faced charges related to the sale of prohibited cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco from his establishment, Food Plus – Pewex, located at 229A Bradford Road, Huddersfield, with the postcode HD1 6EW. Pleading guilty, Mr. Ameen was subsequently fined £120, along with a victim surcharge of £48. Additionally, he was instructed to cover £400 in costs for the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS).
The West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service had been familiar with the premises due to prior complaints about its involvement in distributing unauthorised and duty-free tobacco products.
On the 18th of July, 2022, Trading Standards officers conducted an inspection at the store, prompted by intelligence regarding the unlawful sale of tobacco. During this visit, Mr. Ameen, the defendant, was present at the establishment and acknowledged his ownership of the business.
Investigations revealed the presence of illegal cigarettes concealed within a display unit dedicated to sweets, as well as in a storeroom at the back of the store. The total number of confiscated cigarettes amounted to 47,140, valued at approximately £12,000. This confiscation corresponded to a loss of around £17,000 in excise duty. The illicit tobacco products seized were a combination of counterfeits and smuggled items, lacking the mandatory health warnings and standardised packaging, and had not undergone duty payment.
The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, supported by the five Public Health departments, plays a crucial role in aiding individuals in breaking free from tobacco use. This is achieved through public education and the investigation of vendors who engage in the sale of cheap and unauthorised tobacco products. The initiative employs a multi-agency enforcement approach and community marketing campaigns to effectively address the challenges posed by the illicit tobacco trade.
Up to the present time, this program has successfully removed over 11 million illegal cigarettes and 3 tonnes of unauthorised hand-rolled tobacco from the streets of West Yorkshire. With further inspection activities planned in the upcoming weeks, these figures are anticipated to rise. The program has also organised training sessions that have reached thousands of individuals from the public and hundreds of frontline professionals. These sessions aim to enhance awareness about the associated risks and broader criminal implications associated with the distribution of illicit tobacco products.
Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “Smoking rates in the UK are declining. Reducing the supply and demand of illegal tobacco is one important element of a comprehensive approach to tackling tobacco harm in communities. Members of the public should recognise the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with human trafficking and organised crime gangs.”
Councillor Habiban Zaman, a Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “All tobacco – both legal and illegal – kills half of all long-term smokers. Children and young smokers are often 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.”
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