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Pair fined after counterfeit cigarettes found in home

Published August 14, 2020 12.53pm

A County Durham couple has been fined after they were caught possessing counterfeit and illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Illegal and counterfeit tobacco

One of the items of illegal tobacco seized

Our Trading Standards team took legal action against Geoffrey Tait, 64, and Lucy Tait, 56, after a number of illegal tobacco products were found in their home on The Avenue in Pity Me, Durham.

The Trading Standards team had been receiving information that the defendants were allegedly involved in the sale of tobacco for some time and, in October 2019, a warrant of entry was executed at their home.

During the search, cigarettes and tobacco were found with packaging from a number of brands including JPS, Rothman, and Business Royal cigarettes and Amberleaf, Flandria, and Turner handrolling tobacco.

Anyone who believes they may have information on the sale of illicit tobacco can report it anonymously on the hotline 0300 999 0000 or online at Keep it out.

Illegal products seized

In total, 980 cigarettes and 5.75 kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized at the property. When investigated, it was found that none of the products conformed to the current requirements of standardised packaging and, of the products seized, none had the required combined health warnings except for the Rothman cigarettes.

A sample of the JPS cigarettes and Rothman cigarettes were sent to the trademark holders. Representatives from the trademark holders confirmed that all of the samples were counterfeit.

The pair was charged with possession of counterfeit cigarette and tobacco products that were in breach of a registered trademark, non-compliant with packaging regulations, and in breach of health warning provisions. They both pleaded guilty at Peterlee Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 11 August.

The pair were fined £120, with an additional £200 in costs and a victim surcharge of £32.

Serious impact on communities

Owen Cleugh, our public protection manager, said: "This case illustrates that our Trading Standards team is committed to dealing with illicit tobacco at all levels of the supply chain. It should also serve as a warning to anybody else engaged in this type of criminal behaviour that they risk an appearance at court, a fine or imprisonment and a criminal record by doing so.

"Selling illegal tobacco affects communities on many levels. Not only does it have a serious impact on health, it brings crime and nuisance to local neighbourhoods, makes it easier for children to get hold of cheap tobacco, and undermines the efforts of the stop smoking services."

Advice about stopping smoking can be found from Stop Smoking County Durham by calling 0800 772 0565 or visit our web page to get help to quit smoking.

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