Blackpool store hauled before licensing chiefs over claims of illegal tobacco sales

Evidence suggests illicit sales of cigarettes
Evidence suggests illicit sales of cigarettes
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An off-licence trader could lose his licence after allegedly selling illicit tobacco 'under the counter' at his North Shore store.

Rochdi Soltari is facing a review of the premises licence at his off licence on Dickson Road after trading standards officers uncovered evidence of smuggled cigarettes being sold.

Documents submitted to a town hall hearing, which will be held on Thursday August 15, say trading standards officers visited the shop in March and June this year.

Following searches of the premises boxes were found containing illicit cigarettes.

Officers' suspicions were raised because the products did not carry the correct labelling.

A report due to go before the licensing panel says: "Products of this nature are sold in secret and are concealed from show by the perpetrators of these crimes, i.e. under the counter sales.

"The motivation for such sales is purely economic since these illicit products are not subject to UK duty."

It adds a packet of 20 cigarettes on which excise duty has been paid would retail for £4.57, but "the average cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes under the counter is £3.50."

The store currently has a licence permitting it to sell alcohol between 7am and 11pm daily.

It is alleged the evidence of illegal tobacco trading shows Mr Soltari to be "an unreliable operator" and is failing to uphold the licensing objectives.

The licence review will be held before a panel of councillors who will decide what action to take.