Black market cigarettes sold at Burnley shop

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A BURNLEY shop was selling cheap, illicit Eastern European-made tobacco products produced especially for the black market, a court was told.

Burnley magistrates heard how Jin Ling, the tobacco product, did not carry required health warnings and buyers would have no idea what they were smoking. Mian Khan (57), boss of Queensgate News, was caught out in test purchases by trading standards officers, who bought tobacco for half the normal price at the Colne Road store in the town. He owned up when questioned and said he got the products intending to sell them as business was slow.

Khan, of Colne Road, Burnley, admitted supplying two packets of cigarettes that didn’t comply with requirements to carry health warnings in English on May 17th and possessing for sale 55 packets of cigarettes and two pouches of hand rolling tobacco that didn’t carry health warnings in English, on May 24th. The defendant, who pleaded guilty by letter and did not appear in court or have legal representation, was fined £1,000, with £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Lancashire Trading Standards’ Mr Nicholas McNamara (prosecuting), said Khan owned Queensgate News, in Colne Road, Burnley and his son Suffyan Ahmed worked there as an assistant.

On May 17th, a test purchase was made when Mr Ahmed sold two packets of cigarettes to an officer for £7, about half the cost of legitimate cigarettes. The products were produced especially for the black market and the packets did not say what went into them, the levels of harmful substances they might contain and were not labelled with health warnings.

The hearing was told a week later, the shop sold another packet and a pouch of hand rolling tobacco for half the price of legitimate items. A full inspection of the premises revealed 55 packets of non-compliant cigarettes and two pouches of hand rolling tobacco.

Mr McNamara said when the defendant was interviewed, he was fully co-operative, made full admissions and said he bought the products intending to sell them because business was slow.

The prosecutor added of the defendant’s conduct: “It denies consumers valuable health advice that they need to make an informed choice about smoking.”