Shop where smuggled cigarettes were seized is banned from selling alcohol
- Credit: Norfolk Trading Standards
A Norwich shop has been banned from selling alcohol, after watchdogs discovered it had been storing and selling smuggled counterfeit cigarettes.
But the new owner of Magdalen Road Convenience Store in Norwich says he is applying for a new alcohol licence and aims to put the previous incidents in the past.
The store's alcohol licence was recently revoked by Norwich City Council after illegal tobacco was seized there earlier this year.
The seizure was made by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs earlier this year after a tip-off from a member of the public led to Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards officers going into the shop and buying illegal tobacco.
A Trading Standards spokesman said: "We are grateful to members of the public who reported their concerns to us about the sale of illegal tobacco at the Magdalen Road Convenience Store in Norwich. These reports led to a number of test purchases and a seizure earlier this year."
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Trading Standards applied to Norwich City Council's licensing committee for the shop's licence to sell alcohol to be reviewed.
The committee meeting heard how the licence holder Rebaz Aziz had surrendered the licence in April and the police had objected to an application to transfer it.
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Trading Standards officers told the committee how they, the police and Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs had inspected the store and "there was evidence that the premises had been involved in the sale and storage of smuggled tobacco products on the premises and that there was evidence that a person was working in the premises who was not eligible to work in the United Kingdom due to their immigration status."
A sample of cigarettes suspected to be counterfeit was shown to the committee. Norfolk police backed the review and councillors on the City Hall committee unanimously revoked the licence.
Nobody from the shop made representations or attended the meeting.
But Friad Mohammed, who has taken over the shop since the seizure earlier this year, said he hoped he would be able to secure a new licence.
He said: "We are now under new ownership and I am looking to put what happened before in the past. I have gone to my solicitors because we are hoping we can get a new licence."
What is illegal tobacco?
Illegal tobacco is a term used to describe various products. These could be:
- Counterfeit versions of popular cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco brands
- Products legitimately available in other countries smuggled into the UK (so no duty is paid and the products are not marked with the appropriate English health warnings and often lack fire safety provisions)
- Products made exclusively for the illicit market, such as Jin Ling cigarettes
More than 1.2 million illegal cigarettes were seized in Norfolk over the past year.
The scale of the problem is of 'great concern', according to bosses at Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards service.
Apart from the obvious health risks of smoking, they say the tobacco can contain rat poison, asbestos and mould spores, while helping fund criminal gangs.
People can report illegal tobacco sales via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06