Items confiscated from the Polish Market, at 117-119 New Hall Lane

Supermarket fined more than £4,300 after underage cigarette sale

A Preston-based supermarket is counting the cost after an underage sale landed it in court.

Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards officers sent a 14-year-old into the Polish Market, at 117-119 New Hall Lane, in November, where she was able to buy a packet of cigarettes without being asked to produce any proof of age.

Lancaster Magistrates also heard that the cigarettes also proved to be counterfeit, meaning that that there are no controls over what goes into making them or on the levels of harmful substances they can contain.

An inspection by officers resulted in the seizure of two bags containing 786 packets of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, including more than 100 counterfeit packs. The rest of the packs were all in smuggled, non-plain packaging, the sale of which has been outlawed since 2017.

When later interviewed, Qassim Samen, 35, the owner and sole director of Polish Market Ltd, told officers that the sale 'had been made by mistake after a Romanian man had left the packs at his shop.'

However, the court heard that, only a few months after the interview, an officer was able to buy another packet of smuggled cigarettes at the store.

After submitting a guilty plea on May 15, Mr Samen and his company were given fines and costs totalling £4,363 and magistrates also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the 786 seized packs.

Speaking after the case, County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Lancashire County Council, said: "Trading Standards officers are declaring war against shops prepared to sell age-restricted products to children.

"When unscrupulous shopkeepers sell these illegal products, they can endanger the lives of our residents and they deprive our local communities of funding for public services.

"We find this totally unacceptable and would therefore encourage any residents who have concerns that a shop may be selling counterfeit goods or selling products to someone underage to report their suspicions to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

"We will continue to prosecute traders in Lancashire who are selling smuggled and counterfeit products and any businesses who sell items to someone who is underage."