A man has received a suspended sentence for handling large quantities of illegal tobacco following an investigation by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service.
Alamzeb Khan (31) of Ardwick Street, Burnley, appeared before Burnley Magistrates on Friday 10th March.
He pleaded guilty to four offences relating to the supply of counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco and another offence relating to incorrect health warnings on cigarettes packets.
In May 2016 Trading Standards officers seized 6,492 packets of illicit tobacco and cigarettes from the living room and cellar in Mr Khan's home. Three quarters of these packets were found to be counterfeit.
Mr Khan told officers that he had been looking after them for a friend and had been unaware that they were counterfeit.
Illicit tobacco typically sells for half the price of legitimate packs, which undermines efforts to cut smoking rates and poses unfair competition to legitimate retailers. Unlike legitimate products, no tax is paid on under-the-counter tobacco, although the effects of smoking are thought to cost the NHS alone £2bn annually.
These types of products have also been found not to comply with requirements to self-extinguish if left unattended and have been linked to house-fire fatalities in the UK.
The magistrates sentenced Khan to 12 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months. He must also carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and pay costs and a victim surcharge of £1,800.
Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service, said: "The availability of cheap illegal tobacco and lack of pictorial warnings on these products both contribute to keeping smoking rates high in East Lancashire, while surveys show a higher percentage of child smokers buy illicit tobacco than adult smokers.
"This seizure sends out a message to those operating illegally that such activity will not be tolerated.”
Anyone who suspects they have seen counterfeit or otherwise illegal goods on sale can report them to Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.