Illegal tobacco van busted in High Wycombe

Illegal tobacco in van

Trading Standards Officers visited the shop twice in December 2019, also searching the van that was parked outside the shop recovering 194 packets of cigarettes and 76 pouches of rolling tobacco.

These were all found to be illegal, either by being counterfeit, not correctly labelled or not licensed to be sold in the UK.

The shop owner Mr Sethi provided a version of events which alleged that an unknown seller had entered the shop and gave him the tobacco on the premise that Mr Sethi was going to check the authenticity of the products before he sold them. If they were genuine, he would pay the ‘unknown’ seller and if they weren’t, then he was going to give them back.

Mr Sethi eventually pleaded guilty to all 8 offences and was sentenced in February 2021.

The magistrates commented that there was a degree of planning as he was selling them from the back of his van and not on the premises. Mr Sethi was reluctant to give over the van keys to officers when they first requested which shows non-cooperation and an attempt by him to conceal the evidence. There was an element of financial gain and a health risk to anyone that would buy these illegal products.

Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services said:

“Not having correctly labelled items may seem minor but it means customers don’t know what they are getting, and it could present a health risk”

“Also selling illegal tobacco is damaging to other local businesses, who put the law and the safety of customers and residents first.”

“We want to do all we can to support these legitimate businesses so if you know of illegal tobacco being sold please call 0800 555 111.”