A store in Tiverton has been closed for up to three months for selling illegal tobacco.
The closure order, for the retailer ‘Smoke’ in Bampton Street, was granted by North and East Devon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 28 July.
Our officers from the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service received information that the premises had sold illegal tobacco.
After a number of test purchases we obtained search warrants. Then, with the help of Devon & Cornwall Police, we raided the premises.
Our officers found more than 40kg of illegal tobacco, including counterfeit tobacco.
More than 3,000 packets of cigarettes and more than 800 pouches of hand rolling tobacco were found.
We then approached the licensing authority, Mid Devon District Council, to apply for a closure order.
After an initial 48-hour closure order was approved on July 26, a second application was made – this time for a closure up until October.
The court awarded costs of £4,039.72 to Mid Devon District Council.
Alex Fry, Operations Manager, Intelligence & Investigations, for Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service said:
“We will continue to work closely with Mid Devon District Council, Devon and Somerset’s other authorities and the police to stop the sale of illegal tobacco.
“The sale of illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime – the availability of cheap, illegal tobacco at pocket money prices encourages children to start smoking and puts them at risk and it harms the majority of retailers who play by the rules.”
Councillor Dennis Knowles, Cabinet Member for Community Well Being at Mid Devon District Council said:
“It was important to shut the property down given the negative impact on the community and the criminal behaviour. The success in obtaining the closure order demonstrates the effectiveness of joint working to deal with ‘problem premises’.
“It’s taken our legal team less than a month to get the closure order from when they were contacted by Trading Standards. An impressive turnaround given this was the first commercial premises the Council has sought a closure order for.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards, said:
“This sends a clear message to retailers. If you sell illegal tobacco, there will be consequences for you and your business, and your livelihood will be impacted. We now use detection dogs so regardless of how well it’s hidden, our dogs will be able to find even the smallest amounts.”