A Doncaster shop owner who acquired fake cigarettes to sell told councillors he did it because ‘he didn’t know how to pay the rent’.
Arjumand Hussain, owner of Simply the Best on Warmsworth Road, Balby, said ‘Polish and Russian people’’ would come round often selling counterfeit and smuggled tobacco on a regular basis and was even offered some the day before his hearing.
Councillors on the sub-licensing committee heard Trading Standards officers visited the store on August 29, after receiving a complaint that illicit tobacco products were being sold.
Trading Standards officer Greg Bristol said a quantity of counterfeit and smuggled European cigarettes were seized which had packaging which ‘did not comply with regulations’.
Mr Bristol said illicit cigarettes are ‘not made to the correct standards’ and often ‘do not have the ability to ‘self-extinguish’ and have been implicated in house fires.
When questioned by councillors on why he had the cigarettes, Mr Hussain said: ““The shop is too small and the rent is too high - I didn’t have anything I didn’t know how to pay the rent and gain any money from there.
“I got them (the cigarettes) from Polish people - I speak six or seven languages.
“I told Trading Standards the Polish, Russians, come round and even yesterday they wanted to come and sell some cigarettes and I said no.
“The main reason I sold the cigarettes is because I could not sell alcohol and did not know how to pay the rent.”
Trading Standards officers also discovered a crate of 9% Polish lager - well above the licensing condition limit of 6.5%.
But Mr Hussain said it ‘belonged to a friend’ and thought it was okay ‘because it was an off-licence.
The shop owner told councillors he voluntarily removed the beer after Trading Standards officer questioned him about.
Mr Hussain said he was in the process of obtaining one a alcohol licence and had been on a council-run course.
But the committee agreed with officers and believed the shop owner was selling high strength booze.
“I haven’t had a premises licence,” he said.
“I didn’t know anything about it I didn’t have any idea about what a premises licence is.
“I asked the previous owner and he didn’t tell me anything - he just sold the place to me.”
Doncaster Council solicitor Helen Wilson, on behalf of licensing sub-committee chair Coun Ken Keegan, said: “The committee was most concerned the premises licence holder when he purchased the business had very little understanding of the concept of a personal premises licence.
“The committee are concerned the premises has been trading irresponsibly and cannot be promoting the licensing objectives.”