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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Crackdown on counterfeit and underage tobacco sales

TRADING Standards has vowed to stamp down on counterfeit cigarettes and underage sales following the conviction of a man who sold fake cigarettes to kids from his ice cream van.

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MAKING HEADLINES: The Evening Mail’s front page coverage of the court case against Anthony Marsden who sold counterfeit cigarettes to children

Anthony Thomas Wharton pleaded guilty at Furness Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to selling counterfeit cigarettes and unauthorised use of a trademark following a Trading Standards investigation.

The court was told that Wharton, 61, had targeted children from his ice cream van, selling counterfeit Regal cigarettes at £3.50 a packet.

Wharton, of Marsden Street, Barrow, was given a 12-month community order, requiring him to do 60-hours of unpaid work and pay £350 costs to Cumbria County Council.

A Trading Standards survey published earlier this year, which asked young people in the north west where they bought their cigarettes, found that over a third had bought them from an ice cream van, car boot sale, neighbour or market stall.

Phil Ashcroft, head of Cumbria Trading Standards, said after Wharton’s conviction: “The sale of counterfeit cigarettes is not just a way of not paying tax but these items often contain substances which can be very harmful.

“He knew exactly what he was doing by using his van as a method of attracting children and the sale of these cigarettes from his ice cream van is illegal and completely inappropriate.

“I hope this sends out a message to anyone else thinking of selling illegal cigarettes – to children or adults – that we will catch up with them.”

Figures from the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association show that 42m non-UK duty paid cigarettes are consumed in the UK every day. Counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes cost the government £4.2bn a year in lost tax revenue.

Since October 2007, all cigarette products manufactured by the TMA’s member companies for the UK duty paid market have contained covert security features and Trading Standards officers have been supplied with electronic readers to detect counterfeit product.

A TMA spokeswoman said: “The tobacco industry has been fully committed to tackling this problem for many years and the Memoranda of Understanding between the TMA’s member companies and HMRC have created a comprehensive framework for co-operation.

“This is aimed at combating the smuggling of both genuine and counterfeit tobacco products into the UK as well as seeking to deter all aspects of the illicit trade.”

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