In the first case of its kind, a UK convenience store owner has been found guilty of selling dangerous ‘cheap white’ cigarettes, following a prosecution by Lincolnshire Trading Standards.
The landmark prosecution, designed to warn of the hazards of both selling and smoking illicit tobacco, saw retailer Shapoor Atiqi of Boston Food and Wine Centre found guilty of breaching General Product Safety regulations by selling dangerous non self-extinguishing cigarettes.
Since November 2011, all cigarettes sold in the UK must comply with European standards which require them to go out if not regularly inhaled from.
Up until now retailers caught selling ‘cheap whites’ have only ever been prosecuted for UK tax evasion under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
Illicit cheap white cigarettes such as the Russian-made Jin Ling brand, which Atiqi was found to be selling, do not possess the relevant safety features, Emma Milligan, senior trading standards officer at Lincolnshire Trading Standards, told Convenience Store.
“Jin Ling is an illicit brand not made to European Standards and therefore illegal in Europe. We believe that this type of cigarette caused a house fire in Spalding in which one person died, hence why we wanted to use this case to demonstrate the seriousness of selling them,” she added.
Atiqi was sentenced to 270 hours of unpaid work, and fined more than £5,000.
Imperial Tobacco welcomed the news. “This conviction sends a clear message that retailers caught selling illegal tobacco can and will be prosecuted; it also highlights one of the hidden dangers these unregulated cheap cigarettes present to consumers,” Imperial Tobacco anti-illicit trade manager Peter Nelson said.
Six other authorities have contacted Lincolnshire Trading Standards to find out more.