A Southend businessman who sold unsafe illegal tobacco has been jailed after a raid by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Trading Standards officers.
On 22nd November 2017 Hamid Mashoudi of Ali’s Second Hand, 74 Sutton Road, Southend-on-Sea was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, followed, on release, by a 12 month supervision order.
Mr Mashoudi pleaded guilty to a number of offences of supplying counterfeit, incorrectly marked and unsafe cigarettes and tobacco. He also pleaded guilty to the possession for supply of five unsafe household electrical appliances which were being offered for sale to the public.
The business was raided by officers from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Trading Standards team on 22nd March 2017, assisted by local police officers, leading to the seizure of more than 5,000 cigarettes and nearly 4kg of hand-rolling tobacco.
As well as being counterfeit and incorrectly marked, testing later revealed that many of the cigarettes were unsafe because they failed to have a “reduced ignition propensity”- a safety feature built into all genuine cigarettes to prevent or reduce the risk of house fires when a cigarette is left alight on furniture.
Five second hand-electrical items were also seized from the shop floor sales area and, following examination, were found to be unsafe, with the risk of electrical shock to the user and fire risk. It would have been obvious to the owner of the business that these items were unsafe, purely by visual examination.
The illegal goods were also forfeited for destruction. The court also ordered Mr Mashoudi to pay full prosecution costs of £3,723.90.
Cllr Cox, Executive Councillor for Transport, Waste and Regulatory Services, said: “This sentence sends a strong message to traders thinking about dealing in illegal, dangerous or counterfeit goods.
“We have a team of highly skilled trading standards officers, who will pursue these criminals in the interests of consumer protection to the full extent of the law. In this case, Mr Mashoudi has paid a high price – his own liberty – for the sake of quick quid.
“I would like to thank the diligence of our Trading Standards team for leading this successful prosecution.”
This case is one of a number of similar cases being taken by Southend Borough Council’s Trading standards team against the sale of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes, which are harmful to consumers’ health and robbing the public purse to fund organised crime.
In some cases, rat droppings, dead insects, asbestos and other harmful ingredients have been known to be mixed with poor quality tobacco to be sold off as genuine branded products at a fraction of the legal price.
As well as cheating the tax man out of billions of pounds in lost revenue nationally, the black market trade is harming local businesses and putting smokers in serious danger of harming their health.
The sale of cheap tobacco and cigarettes undermines attempts to reduce the prevalence of smoking, and also makes it impossible for legitimate businesses to compete. Additionally, there are fears this illegal trade may be helping to fund terrorism and organised crime in the UK and abroad.
Unsafe second-hand electrical items are also of great concern to Trading Standards officers, not just for the risk to the user of potential electrical shock, but also the major potential fire risk these products present.
Images – Southend Borough Council / Google Maps. This article is a press release from SBC.