Japan Tobacco International has removed a tobacco gantry from a Cheltenham c-store after its owner was convicted of selling counterfeit and non-UK compliant tobacco products.
Mohammed Sedoo – owner of Central News, 384-396 High Street, Cheltenham – admitted selling the illicit products and was sentenced to six months in prison, prompting JTI to take the decision to remove the gantry last month.
“Given the conviction of this retailer we decided that the removal of our gantry was the most appropriate course of action,” said JTI’s UK head of corporate affairs Paul Williams.
“A minority of independent retailers who get sucked into this illegal trade are giving honest hard-working retailers a bad name. Customers who buy tobacco products will eventually lose faith and trust in their local independent shop if a perception grows that the independent trade is rife with ‘dodgy cigs’.”
Williams added that JTI remained committed to working with HMRC and Trading Standards to tackle the illicit trade.
“This prosecution coupled with our action clearly demonstrates that this crime does not pay,” he warned. “Let’s be clear, retailers who sell illegal tobacco risk a criminal conviction, no further support from JTI and where we own the tobacco gantry a risk of losing that too. I would encourage anyone who is aware of this illegal activity taking place in their town or community to do the right thing and report it to the authorities using the Customs Hotline – 0800 595 000.”