Council Launches Blitz on Sales of Illegal Tobacco

Nearly 50,000 cigarettes found in raids on three shops across the borough

Sniffer dog during a search. Picture: Hammersmith & Fulham

January 9, 2023

£25,000 worth of illegal tobacco following a series of raids in the borough. Hammersmith and Fulham Council said its officers collected a combined 49,400 illegal cigarettes and 33.5kg of illegal shisha tobacco from stores in the borough since 2020.

Enforcement teams have since slapped three shops with £14,000 worth of fines. Prima Delicatessen on North End Road in Fulham was one of them. The shop had previously been served two cautions for selling banned cigarettes in 2017 and 2018.

In October 2020, undercover inspectors caught workers selling the cigarettes on which no duty had been paid. Midzio and staff member Anita Doroszewicz, 57, later pleaded guilty to breaching tobacco regulations at the City of London Magistrates Court in April 2022.

Sulejman Heder, 57, the owner of Vardar’s in Shepherds Bush was convicted for stocking 185 packs of illegal cigarettes. Heder pleaded guilty to breaching tobacco sales rules in June 2022. He was fined £1,000 and required to pay a further £1,700 for ignoring a 2018 caution.

Ali-Reza Sheikhy-Ashrafy, 47, who runs Saffron Supermarket in King Street, was hit with a £7,500 fine for stocking more than 2,270 packs of foreign cigarettes and 33.5kg of illegal shisha tobacco. Sheikhy-Ashrafy pleaded guilty at the City of London Magistrates Court on Wednesday, August 31, 2022.

Since April last year, the council has seized 12,500 illegal cigarettes, 27kg of tobacco and issued £5,000 in fines. It also claims to have seized a “record number” of illegal e-cigarettes in 2022.

Cllr Rebecca Harvey, Hammersmith and Fulham’s Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Community Safety, said, “We’re cracking down on illegal tobacco products to help protect residents and level the playing field for local law-abiding businesses. Fighting crime is a cornerstone of our approach to building a stronger, safer and kinder borough.”

Adrian Zorzut - Local Democracy Reporter