Preston shopkeeper Asif Vohra must do unpaid work after 683 illicit tobacco products were seized from his shop

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores
Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

Hundreds of illicit tobacco products have been seized from a Preston shop.

Asif Vohra, the owner of Vohra stores on Lauderdale Street, stashed the products in a variety of places, including behind the counter, amongst groceries on the shop floor and

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

at the foot of a staircase.

He was charged with six offences - one relating to counterfeit cigarettes and five in relation to improperly labelled tobacco products that either did not have the correct UK health warnings or were not in plain packaging.

Proseciuting, Claire Box said on July 20 last year Lancashire Trading Standards carried out an inspection with Mr Vohra present in the shop.

Officers found 27 packets of cigarettes, 12 packets of hand rolling tobacco, 33 packs of shisha tobacco, 551 smokeless tobacco products and 60 electronic cigarette liquid refills.

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

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She said: "These regulations aim to make smoking less attractive to adults and children but as illicit packets tend to be found to be sold at around half the price of legitimate packets this makes the habit more accessible - with a legitimate packet of cigarettes selling for around £9.50, and hand rolling tobacco at around £20.

The lower price also makes it difficult for law abiding retailers to compete and deprives the taxman of duty and VAT of around £6.36 per pack of illicit cigarettes and £11.13

per pack of tobacco sold.

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

Illicit tobacco at Vohra Stores

"And whilst smoking is an unhealthy habit anyway, there are further risks with counterfeit tobacco, as unlike their genuine counterparts, there are no controls over what goes into making them, or on the levels of harmful substances they might contain."

It is the third time Vohra, 45, of Blackpool Road, Preston, has come before the courts over tobacco offences.

He previously became first Lancashire trader to fall foul of cigarette advertising laws introduced in 2012 that cite larger stores such as supermarkets must ensure any tobacco product is hidden from public view.