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Islington Council revokes shops’ licences after illicit tobacco seized

Islington Council has revoked the alcohol licences of two newsagents after black market tobacco was uncovered by detection dogs. In both cases, the contraband was found wired to the underside of the counters. 
 
In the most recent case, at last week’s meeting of Islington Council’s Licensing Committee, councillors decided to withdraw the premises licence for Essex Alternative Supermarket, 360 Essex Road, ran by Mr Selahattin Aydemir, following a review by the council’s Trading Standards team. 
 
In the operation at this shop in November a detection dog sniffed out 24 packs of Polish-market Marlboro Gold cigarettes and nearly 50 packs of Belgian hand-rolling tobacco, stashed under the counter.
 
Mr Aydemir, the shop’s manager, claimed the tobacco was brought into the shop by one of his employees and that he was unaware of its presence. The council’s Licensing Committee did not accept Mr Aydemir’s version of events and revoked his licence.
 
Trading Standards officials also established the shop had breached its alcohol licence as a result of inadequate record keeping and failures to provide CCTV footage and display required notices.
 
In 2011 Islington Council had previously issued Mr Aydemir with a formal warning, after more than 135 bottles of non-duty-paid wine – which Mr Aydemir said he had bought from a person calling to the shop, in breach of licence conditions – were seized from the Essex Road off-licence. 
 
In the second case, Devrim Saygili, owner of B & D Supermarket at 156 Seven Sisters Road, N7, also had his premises licence revoked by the council’s Licensing Committee on 8 March 2016, following a similar review by its Trading Standards team.  
 
The review was carried out after 18 packs of Bulgarian-market Marlboro Gold cigarettes, hidden under the counter, were sniffed out by a detection dog in November last year. A large amount of illegal alcohol was previously seized from the shop in November 2014.
 
Speaking at the hearing, Mr Saygili’s representative admitted that his client had been at fault, but maintained that the cigarettes were for personal use. He asked the Committee to consider suspending Mr Saygili’s licence for selling alcohol for three months, but councillors felt revoking the licence was appropriate.

Both Mr Aydemir and Mr Saygili have the right to appeal the committee’s ruling within 21 days of being sent its decision.
 
Jan Hart, Director of Public Protection at Islington Council, said “We offer low-cost training and easy-to-read written information to off-licensees to help them keep on the right side of the law. 
 
“We expect high standards from licensed premises in Islington and those who do not take notice of this advice, and especially those who deliberately disregard it, can expect to face action. 
 
“Businesses need to understand the effect of losing their licences and make it a priority to do what is necessary to keep them.”
 
Julie Billett, Director of Public Health for Islington and Camden, expressed concern about the availability of cheap tobacco: “Cheap illicit tobacco poses a real health risk to local residents. Local surveys show that smokers feel it makes it harder to stop smoking, harder to quit and nearly 70 per cent of them want action taken to prevent its sale.”
 
For more information about keeping within licensing rules, businesses can see email trading.standards@islington.gov.uk or see www.islington.gov.uk/illicitgoods.  

For more information contact:

Eugene Grant
Senior Media Officer
0207 527 2530
eugene.grant@islington.gov.uk

Notes to editors

A 2015 survey of smokers in Islington showed that more than a third (35.6%) had been offered cheap tobacco in the last year and over a third of those offered, did buy it. However, a third of those who had bought cheap tobacco would not do so again, primarily because of concerns about taste or quality.

Nearly half (49%) of smokers who responded to the survey agreed that the availability of cheap tobacco made it more difficult to quit smoking; 7 in 10 (69%) agreed that something should be done to stop cheap tobacco being sold.

For more information, please see: http://www.smokefreeislington.nhs.uk/about-smokefree-islington/cheap-illicit-tobacco/