A Coventry shopkeeper has lost his licence to sell alcohol after his store was caught selling illegal cigarettes to a child.
Trading Standards officers launched an investigation after reports that children had been seen smoking outside Qadz Local in Heath Road.
A young volunteer was sent into the shop fitted out with a video recording device and asked for some ‘cheap’ cigarettes.
The shop assistant took a packet of illegal cigarettes from an area between a refrigerator and a display of crisps and sold them for £3 without asking for proof of age. The money went straight into the till.
Officers immediately entered the shop to search for any illegal tobacco products and found a tray full of cigarettes which were either foreign labelled or failed to have the appropriate health warnings in English.
Shopkeeper Mohammed Naseer Qadiri – aged 33, was unable to offer any explanation for the sale or show that he had proper control over activities taking place in his shop and this week, Coventry City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Sub–Committee revoked his alcohol premises licence.
They heard that he had failed to prevent the illegal trade in cigarettes in his store and had failed to meet the licence objectives of protecting children from harm by exposing them to alcohol by the sale of cheap cigarettes.
He had also failed in the Prevention of Crime objective by having illegal tobacco products; had ignored advice given by Trading Standards officers in a warning letter; and had deliberately obstructed officers when they asked for CCTV footage after he had been seen disposing of items in a plastic bag.
Councillor Lindsley Harvard, Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Sub-Committee, said: "This decision should serve as a warning to all alcohol premises licence holders that they need to keep within the law or they will lose their licence.
“Selling age-restricted products to children and being in possession of illegal or counterfeit products are very serious offences.
“The rules are there to protect people from harm and we will take any breach of those rules very seriously.”
Anyone with information about illegal tobacco sales should call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040 506.