Helpful hound secures prosecution against illicit tobacco trader

A tobacco detection dog at work.

The nifty nose of a tobacco detection dog helped the Council discover a haul of illicit tobacco.

Following a complaint regarding the sale of illicit tobacco the Council began an investigation into A-Z Bargains, of Old Church Street, Manchester.

When officers from Trading Standards visited the premises on 7 November, 2021, 4,980 cigarettes and 2.35kg of rolling tobacco were discovered hidden under the stairs of the premises in bags, as well in hidden locations in the back office.

Samples were taken away by the Council for testing which later confirmed that the tobacco was counterfeit and not intended for sale in the UK.

When questioned, the company’s director Azhar Mohammad, claimed the tobacco had been sold by staff and he was unaware of its presence in the shop.

On Wednesday, 31 May 2023, Pound World 2015 Limited (company behind A-Z Bargains) pleaded guilty to trademark infringement and tobacco packaging regulations.

The company was fined a total of £3,500, ordered to pay £768 in court costs and a victim surcharge of £181.

Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods said: “We are committed to removing the threat illicit tobacco poses to our communities. The sale of this product, usually at drastically cheaper prices, makes it harder for people trying to quit smoking, or makes it easier for younger people to take up the habit.

“Smoking is known to cause significant health problems such as heart disease and lung cancer, conditions which we know disproportionately impact residents in Manchester.

“I am grateful for my colleagues in Trading Standards as well as our legal team for securing this important conviction.”

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