Alfie, a tobacco detection dog.
A clever sniffer dog was on the money when his keen nose helped uncover a haul of counterfeit cigarettes from a Harpurhey newsagent.
In September 2018 Manchester City Council Trading Standards Officers carried out an inspection at Miad News, in the North City Shopping Centre, acting on information illegal tobacco was being sold there.
With the aid of Alfie, a tobacco detection dog, boxes in the rear storeroom were located, inside of which were found 1,680 illegal cigarettes and 25 blunts. During this visit a customer came into the shop for cigarettes. When handed genuine ones they were heard asking for “the £6 ones”, indicating that the sale of cheaper illegal tobacco was taking place.
When interviewed the defendant Mubarak Natha, 40, of Lee Avenue, Bolton, admitted buying illegal tobacco from an individual. In hindsight he recognised this was wrong to do. Natha is also the director of Lucky News NW Ltd., the company behind Miad News.
At a hearing at Tameside Magistrates’ Court on November 23, the company and Natha pleaded guilty to tobacco regulation offences and trademark offences.
The company was fined £1,800 and ordered to pay costs of £875. Natha was ordered to pay a fine of £900, as well as costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £170.
A forfeiture and destruction order was also made for the seized tobacco.
In Greater Manchester a campaign against illegal tobacco, Keep It Out, has been launched with the aim of educating the public on the harms of illegal tobacco. One in five people who smoke have bought illegal tobacco.
Working to eliminate illegal tobacco keeps it out of the hands of children as well as adults who are working to quit the habit.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “Tobacco is one of society’s greatest ills. Too many people in Manchester are dying every year prematurely because of smoking related illnesses. We know that the easier tobacco is to get hold of, the more people’s health will suffer as a result.
“Every week our officers are on the streets making these kinds of inspections to get harmful products off our streets. I am pleased that the work of our Trading Standards Team and legal officers has resulted in this successful prosecution.”