The former owner of a Cambridgeshire retailer has been fined more than £2,500 for selling illegal and unsafe tobacco.
Julija Miliaskiene (25) of Clarence Road, Kettering, pleaded guilty to three offences relating to illicit tobacco at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (September 11).
Miliaskiene admitted two charges of possession and supplying the cigarettes and tobacco without a health warning contrary to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, and one charge for failing to comply with safety requirements under General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
As the sole director of March Food Store Ltd, which traded as Europa at 25a Broad Street in March, Miliaskiene was responsible for possessing and selling tobacco which failed to comply with labelling regulations and was deemed unsafe due to fire safety failures.
This is not the first time illicit tobacco has been sold from these premises – earlier in 2016 there were seizures under different owners who were subsequently prosecuted. In December 2016, a trained test purchaser was sold a packet of cigarettes which failed to comply with tobacco labelling regulations.
A search of the premises carried out in February 2017 found 11,220 cigarettes, 25 pouches and two tins of tobacco in the building which failed to comply with tobacco labelling regulations and displayed no health warnings.
In her defence, the court heard Miliaskiene has since sold the business in May 2018 and has resigned as a director for the company and therefore charges against it were dropped.
Peter Gell, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s head of Trading Standards, said: “This case highlights the dangers of illegal tobacco products and it should act as a warning to others who are thinking about taking part in this criminality. This trader not only didn’t pay tax on the tobacco but the cigarettes were unregulated which are a fire hazard if a lit cigarette is left unattended.
“Tobacco smuggling costs the Government more than £3 billion a year in lost revenue. We do not accept this illegal market in our county and continue to work with HMRC to crack down on those who flout the legislation.”
Miliaskiene was fined £1,200, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,300 and a victim surcharge of £120. Forfeiture and destruction of the seized goods was also ordered by the court.
For more information about spotting illegal tobacco visit https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/consumer-protection/illegal-tobacco/.