100,000 illegal cigarettes were found stashed inside a secret counter compartment, behind a false stock room wall and inside crates of soft drinks, when police and trading standards raided a Hereford shop.
Hereford Magistrates heard that the haul of non-duty paid, smuggled, and fake foreign labelled cigarettes seized at European Fresh Foods, Eign Gate, was worth around £13,000 at street value.
Retailer Mohammed Bakhtyer admitted having the illicit tobacco to sell to receive a four month suspended prison sentence. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,169 in costs.
All the seized cigarettes will be destroyed.
The court heard that during the raid, earlier this year, the cigarettes were initially uncovered as hidden in a secret compartment under the shop counter and inside crates of soft drinks.
But the finding of a false wall built into the shop's stock room revealed a further 4,000 packets for sale.
Speaking after the case, Mike Pigrem, Herefordshire Council’s head of trading standards and licensing, said the cigarettes found
were of “dubious” quality with the potential to cause health problems potentially far worse than smoking legal tobacco.
petet25: The government claim innocent shops are losing trade due to "illegal" tobacco sales.... False. I spoke to tobacco shop owners who reported making more on packets on mints than tobacco/cigarettes. They stated that per pack of 20 sold, they make around 15p.... Nowhere near enough to keep a business afloat.
The government lose out on tax revenue? Yes and no. They spend millions on campaigns to get people to stop smoking.... So the money gained in taxing cigarettes is poured into getting people to stop smoking.
While the government heavily tax cigarettes/tobacco, smokers will always try to find a cheap deal... Even if it means going overseas and brining back a vast amount. The government should lower taxes so illegal tobacco sales will no longer be a thing.
Did you know that this new thing with sniffer dogs is often funded by the big tobacco company's? Hull council recently refused an offer where a tobacco giant offered to pay for sniffer dogs and surveillance to stop illegal sales....
I dont even smoke myself but can see what is happening.
The government have tried to screw smokers over for years, now people wont stand for it and the government are making up sob story's to make out that innocent businesses are paying the price. Plus buying illegal tobacco damages smokers health further than legit cigs.
Actually the illegal tobacco sales consist of "duty free" imports that have been produced by British tobacco company's so are no more dangerous than the same brands that can be bought at places like tescos.
Hilary Jones: Petet: People addicted to tobacco will smoke, however much it costs, but cheaper fags will make it easier to start or smoke more. Therefore reducing the tax take will do nobody any good, and it will reduce the amount of money available to treat the resulting lung diseases.
Shops make next to no profit on a packet of fags - that's excellent - but of course they sell them as a loss leader to bring in
the trade in mints & pop. They are NOT innocent, even less so when they try to defraud the taxman, thus reducing the amount of money available to treat the resulting lung diseases.
And "duty-free" illegal imports? Well, all that proves is that the tobacco companies are the villains here, because they make huge profits out of those the resulting lung diseases.
petet25: Surprised considering my points were based on facts and figures where evidence was named to prove my points. Seems like we have quite a few pro government sheep here.
When will people realise that heft tax is to line the governments pockets with no regard for anyone else?
Just look at pubs, record numbers closing each week. As a camra member, I see the main factor is increased taxes on drinks each year which has hit pubs hard. People prefer to just pick up beer from supermarkets that sell it as a loss leader for cheaper.
Wetherspoons have held several tax reduced days where sales have increased, thus the government gain more money overall.
What about the FOBT (fixed odd betting terminals) in bookmakers? The government approved these initially on probation. Years later after lives have been ruined by those machines they admit they got it wrong, and certain reviews are happening.
If all under the counter tobacco sales stopped, what would happen? Its cheap enough to get a flight to Belgium and pick up unlimited tobacco/cigarettes... Then it will be back to the days of people knowing a man in a pub who sells it cheap.
petet25: Hilary... A few points based on what you mentioned....
People will smoke regardless of the price. Price plays no part in defining weather people smoke or not.
People know the risks, there is simply no proof that cheaper cigs = more smokers.... Simply because that theory has never been tested. Its simply a government guess.
Reducing the tax indeed would work. See it this way....
Someone can go to belgium/france/poland anywhere like that and buy tobacco and cigarettes for cheap. Plus they can bring an unlimited amount back.
In Belgium a 50g pouch of golden Virginia costs just £6, sometimes even less. In a shop here it costs nearly £20. Many smokers do a weekend flight, stock up with 50 pouches. Which saves them around £400, and they get a nice few days away. The government get 0p and smokers get their tobacco. If the government reduced taxes, it would not be as worthwhile.
Lung diseases? If you look at actual nhs figures you will see that the amount the government currently get from cigarette/tobacco taxes is more than it costs to treat smoking related illnesses. So the amount of people who buy legit, is still enough to fund extra things.
The government cant have it both ways. If all smokers gave up, where would the lost revenue come from? Blatantly more council cuts and an increase in the tax people pay out of their wages.
Well yes... Tobacco company's make huge amounts of money.
Bottom line is the government need to change things. If they did... This wouldn't be a problem, nor would weekend trips exclusively for duty free tobacco.
Look at the pub trade as I mention above....they were trigger happy to increase taxes on alcohol and screw over pub owners....now what? Home brewing and supermarket cheap alcohol sales have increased, while more than 50 pubs close nationwide each week leaving many people out of work.