Following a period of surveillance, our Trading Standards team seized more than £300,000 worth of illicit tobacco products during a raid in Sheffield.
Trading Standards stub out sale of illegal tobacco
Sheffield City Council has prosecuted two people for illegally selling tobacco products from a pub in the city centre, as part of its continued work and ambition for a smokefree generation by 2025.
The couple appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court on 19th November 2019 and pleaded guilty to Trade Marks and other tobacco related offences.
David Dukes, aged 73 of Hanover Street and Alice “Denise” Depalma, aged 69 of Fox Street were both prosecuted for selling and supplying counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes and tobacco from a city centre public house.
Trading Standards received information warning them of the illegal activity in December 2018. Officers witnessed the couple making sales during their initial observations and obtained video recording of sales being made from nearby CCTV in January.
Alice “Denise” Depalma and David Dukes on CCTV
Officers from Trading Standards and South Yorkshire Police stopped and searched the couple outside the pub in March 2019. They were found with counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco which did not have the correct packaging or required health warnings.
The defence council suggested the couple were not selling on a daily basis but were unlucky to have been “caught in the act” on the three separate occasions spanning a four month period. However the Magistrates were more inclined to accept that the defendants had been selling tobacco products in this manner on a regular basis.
Both David and Denise were fined £150 by the courts and ordered to pay £250 costs and a £30 victim surcharge. The court also ordered a forfeiture and destruction order for all tobacco seized.
Ian Ashmore, Head of Environmental Protection at Sheffield City Council, said: “Illegal tobacco undermines the effectiveness of taxation and makes it harder for smokers to quit.
“Our trading standards service work hard to protect the public from people operating illegally and to support legitimate businesses. Trading laws are there for a reason, to protect people from the dangers of unauthorised and unregulated products.
“I hope this action is a warning to others who are selling illicit cigarettes, and demonstrates that we do take this issue very seriously. We ask anyone who suspects or knows illegal sales are happening to report it so that we can put a stop to it.”
Illicit cigarettes are priced on average at just £4.50 per pack, this is in line with 1980’s prices, and illegal cigarettes are often sold in singles. This makes it easier for children to buy cigarettes for pocket money prices, enabling them to get hooked on deadly tobacco from a young age.
Each week in Sheffield there are 16 smoking related deaths and five children start smoking every day. Smoking is the single biggest cause of illness and death in the city and a major contributor to the differences in health outcomes between the city’s richest and poorest communities.
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health at Sheffield City Council, said: “Illicit tobacco is typically smoked by people on low incomes making these inequalities worse.
“We are committed to supporting people out of tobacco addiction and a key part of our Tobacco Control Strategy is tackling the illicit market. We take every precaution to ensure our children don’t start smoking and take up this deadly habit that kills one in two users.
“Trading Standards are working really hard to stamp out the availability of cheap and illegal tobacco in Sheffield but we know there is more to do and we will continue working with partners across the city to tackle this issue that has such damning effects on people’s lives.”
To report illegal activity or any suspicions contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Smokefree Sheffield, including advice and support to quit visit www.smokefreesheffield.org
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