Enfield Council’s Trading Standards has successfully prosecuted the owner of an off-licence in Enfield Lock, who was selling illicit tobacco.
The Council’s Trading Standards officers and sniffer dogs visited Maxi Wine Centre in Hertford Road, Enfield Lock on 28 October 2019 and found 221 packets of 20 cigarettes in a cardboard box behind the counter.
A hearing at Highbury Magistrates Court on 5 July 2022 revealed that owner, Ali Riza Tulu, age 26, had breached his licence conditions on numerous instances and failed to comply with the labelling and health warnings on the tobacco packaging as the language was not in English.
Super-strength alcohol was also on sale in his shop that was prohibited by his licence.
Ali Riza Tulu pleaded guilty to three offences pertaining to unauthorised licensable activities, namely breaches of Premises Licence conditions, contrary to the Licensing Act and one breach of the Tobacco & Related Products regulations 2016 related to possession of non-duty paid tobacco.
Ali Riza Tulu was fined £3,600 and £3,600 costs were awarded.
The estimated excise duty and VAT evaded was approximately £1,559.11 on 4,420 cigarettes and £70.70 pertaining to five packets hand-rolling tobacco.
The successful prosecution was the cumulation of several visits to Maxi Wine Centre, by Licensing & Trading Standards officers from Enfield Council and is part of a national project by London Trading Standards called ‘Op CeCe’ that has been financed from a national fund from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) via National Trading Standards (NTS).
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Licensing, Planning & Regulatory Services, Cllr Susan Erbil, said: “The work carried out by the Council’s dedicated Licensing & Trading Standards team investigating premises in the borough has identified illegal tobacco that has been swiftly removed from the market.
“I would encourage residents to report any suspicions they have of illegal sales of tobacco and cigarettes to the Council.
“We will continue to crackdown on criminal activity involving tobacco and prosecute those who break the law which leads to a Safer Enfield for everyone.”
The Op Cece project is aimed at the disruption of the distribution of illegal tobacco only. The project is targeted at illegal cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco and other non-duty paid or non-compliant tobacco products.
From a Public Health perspective, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.
Illegal tobacco and cigarettes are known to be smuggled into the UK to be sold for high profit margins with blatant disregard to compliance with product safety legislation.
National Trading Standards works closely with local authorities to assist in the detection of illegal tobacco, the seizure of illegal tobacco products by Trading Standards and test purchasing activity to target those who supply these products.
HM Revenue and Customs encourages anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it by calling their freephone Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.
Enfield Council's Trading Standards service is responsible for protecting consumers and businesses in the borough by ensuring a safe and fair trading environment.