A shop in Wolverhampton is facing a review of its premises licence after the seizure of 20,540 illegal cigarettes by Trading Standards.
The Transilvania shop – also known as the Romanian shop – on Merridale Street West, Graiseley, was raided in November last year when a haul of 1,027 packets each containing 20 cigarettes was found.
The cigarettes were discovered behind the counter, in a room above the shop and also in a vehicle parked outside.
Wolverhampton Council’s District Officer for Trading Standards Dianne Slack said: “The purpose of the review is to ask for a suspension or revocation of the licence to prevent such activity taking place in the future.
“With regard to the sale of cigarettes, alcohol and food on the premises, we need to ensure that all necessary crime prevention measures required by law are being complied with.
“The illegal cigarettes were discovered both behind the counter and in the storeroom, as well as also inside the vehicle registered to the proprietor, Miss Mihaela Adriana Epuran, that was parked outside the shop.
“Miss Epuran, who was present when Trading Standards inspectors visited the premises, was advised that it is a criminal offence to possess, supply or sell illicit tobacco products where those goods are marked as duty free or where UK duty has not been paid on those goods.”
The seized goods included a number of cigarettes known as ‘foreign cheap whites’ – for example Marvel and NZ, which are foreign brands brought into the UK illegally specifically to be sold on the black market.
She added: “English branded cigarettes such as Kent, Dunhill, Winston and Rothmans that bore foreign warnings and labellings were also seized.”
Wolverhampton Health Improvement Officer Amy Baker said there were ‘very serious concerns’ about the significant amount of illicit tobacco seized.
She said: “As a responsible authority we would expect any business licensed to sell alcohol to act responsibly.
“Also, sales of illegal tobacco make smoking more affordable – and this is in a ward that is the seventh highest deprived in the whole city.
“There are also three primary schools in close proximity to the shop and we don’t want the risk of young people being affected by any toxins either.”
The new licence review application was received on January 29 and the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee is set to discuss the matter at a meeting next week. Miss Epuran has been invited to attend the hearing along with any other interested parties.