Two shopkeepers who stored more than 3,000 fake cigarette packets have received suspended prison sentences.
Chiya Baaktiar Swar Sherwany was given a six month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and Aram Nadrei was given a four month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work on Thursday 8 August at Lewes Crown Court, according to a release from West Sussex Trading Standards, which led the investigation.
On February 7 last year, Trading Standards officers visited the shop All Sorts in Montague Street, Worthing, with trained sniffer dogs and discovered cigarettes and tobacco inside a drinks fridge. They seized 104 packets of cigarettes and 60 50g pouches of tobacco.
Officers returned on March 8, 2018, and found 50 cigarette packets of cigarettes hidden inside the shop walls.
On June 25, 2018, officers found Nadrei made a payment to a storage unit in Worthing. This was searched and more than 3000 packets of cigarettes and 32 tobacco pouches were discovered.
Samples of the products were tested and some were found to be dangerous.
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Illicit tobacco and cigarettes do not self-extinguish which makes them very dangerous. This sentence highlights the seriousness of the crime and I hope it will deter others from doing the same.”
Jacquie Russell, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “It is vital we put a stop to the sale of illicit and counterfeited cigarettes in West Sussex: This criminal activity particularly targets vulnerable smokers and potential new smokers. They pose additional and potentially serious extra health and fire risks compared to legitimate tobacco products.”
Anyone concerned about the sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or can report details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport