A SHOP owner in Leamington sold counterfeit cigarettes to children.
Arsalan Abdulbakht, who runs International Mini Market on High Street, was prosecuted by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards following an undercover operation.
At Nuneaton Magistrates Court, 27 year-old Abdulbakht, of Buckley Road, Lillington, was found guilty and sentenced to a 12 month community order with 150 hours unpaid work, a three month overnight curfew, and was also ordered to pay full costs of £4,438.
Officers seized counterfeit cigarettes on sale in the store in May 2016 after receiving a tip off children were being sold cigarettes.
Two months later, trading standards arranged for a 15 year-old volunteer to attempt to purchase cigarettes from the store. The teenager was sold a packet of counterfeit Marlboro Gold cigarettes for £5 – almost half the price of a genuine packet.
Following the test purchase, officers returned to the store and seized all of the tobacco on the premises as suspected counterfeit goods. Some was in cupboards behind the counter, and some hidden in speakers on the windowsill of the shop. The court later ordered them to be forfeited and destroyed.
Janet Faulkner, head of Warwickshire Trading Standards, said: “Not only was our child volunteer sold cigarettes, which is bad enough, they were also sold counterfeits at pocket money prices.
“We know that most adult smokers begin smoking as children and when cigarettes are sold cheaply, whether they are fake or genuine, this makes it easier for children to obtain them and take up the habit.
“Warwickshire trading standards will continue to carry out these important enforcement exercises to protect the health of Warwickshire’s children and young people.”