Illicit shisha stash in shop leads to big fine

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A company director who sold illegal shisha tobacco products from his shop has been fined £430.

Imran Patel, 33, of Skeffington Road, was charged after a probe by Lancashire Trading Standards but tried to claim he did not know they contained tobacco.

His firm, Rainbow World at St Georges Road in Deepdale, Preston, admitted a count of possessing infringing tobacco products for supply.

It must pay a £1,000 fine, £100 surcharge and £120 costs.

The court heard during an inspection by Lancashire Trading Standards in October 13, hundreds of pouches of shisha tobacco products, together with blunts and cones, were seized by officers, along with six pouches of non-duty-paid Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco.

Patel was present at the time.

None of the 379 packs seized displayed the legally required health warnings in English.

Prosecuting for Trading Stadards, Nick McNamara said: “Shisha smoking, sometimes known as hookah or waterpipe smoking and is a way of inhaling tobacco – often mixed with fruit or molasses sugar – through a bow and hose or tube.

“ Shisha smoking is traditionally practised by Middle Eastern and Asian community groups but it is becoming increasing widespread.

“As it contains nicotine it must display the same text and picture warnings as conventional tobacco.”

He added: “When later interviewed, Imran Patel admitted that most of the packs were for sale although he was surprised that some of the products contained tobacco.

“ He said that he forgotten about the six Golden Virginia pouches, which had been in his stock room for some time.”

Magistrates said it was “incredible” he did not know the products contained tobacco and said consumers could have faced health dangers.

An Evening Post campaign against illicit tobacco highlighted how illegal, cheap, tobacco products reduce the incentive for people to quit, leading to more deaths from smoking illnesses.