A shop has been closed and boarded up following a series of seizures of illicit tobacco with a street value of over £100,000.
The closure order for Faisal Food Store in Manchester Road, Nelson, was granted at Burnley Magistrates Court on December 5th.
Closure orders are a way to address criminality and issues of public safety where other means have failed.
Councillor David Whipp, Chair of Pendle Community Safety Partnership, said: “We’ve been working with Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards team to close Faisal Food Store.
“This is not just a criminal case. We have concerns for public health and also fire safety because of the way these illegal cigarettes have been made.
"EU rules limit the amount of tar and carbon monoxide produced by cigarettes. However, many parts of the world do not have legal limits.
“In addition, genuine cigarettes have fire controls in their paper covers so they should not continue burning for long if dropped in bed or on a sofa.
“Counterfeit or illegal cigarettes do not have these controls, so will continue to burn.
“Since many house fires are caused by cigarettes, these reduced ignition requirements are of vital importance to public safety.”
The two owners and the limited company behind Faisal Food Store pleaded guilty to breaches relating to many thousands of packs of illicit tobacco products seized between July, 2018 and December, 2019.
The offences relate to incorrect packaging and health warnings on the seized products. Sentencing for these offences is expected to take place at Burnley Crown Court in February.
Councillor Whipp added: “I would like to make it clear that the owner of the building - who is not the owner of the business – has had no involvement in the criminal activity.
“He is co-operating with Pendle Council and Lancashire County Council to make sure that when the business re-opens with a new owner there will not be a repeat of this criminal activity.”
This prosecution follows a number of previous actions by Trading Standards relating to the supply of illicit products at the store, with problems going back to 2013.
County Coun. Albert Atkinson, Cabinet Member for Technical Services, Rural Affairs and Waste Management, which includes Trading Standards, said:
“Illicit tobacco has a negative impact on local communities.
“It makes it easier for children and young people to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Illegal traders also have a devastating impact on legitimate businesses in the area.
“Illegal tobacco sellers in Lancashire need to think twice. We will use all the weapons in our armoury to make life harder for criminals to thrive on our high streets.
“We frequently work with local councils like Pendle and with Lancashire Police to review licences, close illegal traders down and prosecute them.”
Anyone who thinks that a Pendle business is trading illegally should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06. All information regarding criminal activities will be passed on to the relevant local Trading Standards Service.