Yalaw Shop Limited, trading as The Yellow Shop on Station Road, Horsforth, appeared at Kirklees Magistrates Court on 31st October 2023 in response to a case brought forth by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS). They were charged with selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco, as well as cigarettes and tobacco not in plain packaging or carrying the Health Warning in English.
Additionally, the company had disposable electronic cigarettes for sale with a tank capacity exceeding 2 ml and a nicotine strength surpassing 20 mg/ml, contrary to regulations.
Khabat Ahmad, the Director of Yalaw Shop Limited, pleaded guilty to the offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, and The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. The company received a fine of £4000, with the Magistrates taking into account the guilty plea. They were also directed to pay a surcharge of £1600 and cover costs amounting to £2753.36.
The business had already been on the radar of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) due to complaints about the sale of cheap and illicit tobacco.
In August 2022, officers from WYTSS’s Cheap and Illicit Tobacco Team visited The Yellow Shop after receiving reports of the availability of cheap and illicit tobacco. They confiscated 88 packs of cigarettes and 618 disposable electronic cigarettes exceeding the prescribed 2 ml capacity and 20 mg/ml nicotine strength. A second seizure occurred in November 2022, resulting in the removal of a further 87 packs of cigarettes and 2 packs of hand rolling tobacco from sale, along with 165 disposable electronic cigarettes.
Yalaw Shop Limited was interviewed under caution and admitted knowledge of the illegal nature of the cigarettes and tobacco. The business had neglected to ensure the legality of the e-cigarettes they were selling, leading to a plea of guilty for all offences.
David Strover, 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.”
Consumers wishing to report illegal trading practices, including the sale of illegal tobacco and vapes, can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 to report their concerns anonymously.