Cowley Road shop caught with illegal shisha tobacco

The company director of a Cowley Road food store, who admitted to possessing illegal shisha tobacco with an intent to supply, has pleaded guilty following a prosecution brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards.  

Cihan Sigirtmac of Pak Halal Erdem Food Centre Ltd – which trades as Erdem Food Centre – 236 Cowley Road, Oxford, appeared before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The court heard that on 6 May 2021, trading standards visited the store as part of Operation CeCe, a national trading standards initiative in partnership with HMRC. The operation is playing a significant role in disrupting the illicit tobacco trade. Over 21,000 grams of shisha tobacco in 113-unit packs were discovered behind the counter. 

None of the tobacco products were labelled with the required statutory warnings and the vast majority made reference to a taste, smell or flavouring, all of which are prohibited.

Sigirtmac, 48, pleaded guilty to six offences under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2016. The company was fined a total of £3000 with Sigirtmac also being fined £600 in his personal capacity. Combined costs and court surcharge totalled £1,450. The court also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the seized shisha tobacco.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “In a typical shisha session of about one hour, a shisha smoker can inhale the same amount of toxins as a cigarette smoker consuming over 100 cigarettes. Like cigarette smoking, these toxins put shisha smokers at risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases, cancers, nicotine addiction, and other health effects.

“We know it can be hard to stop using tobacco products but help is available. People are three times more likely to successfully quit by using a stop smoking service like Smokefree Oxfordshire. The service is free to everyone living in the county.” 

Anyone with information about the illegal sale of any tobacco, including shisha, should contact 0300 999 6 999 or report it anonymously through the website stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk

As part of Operation CeCe, in the last 12 months, Oxfordshire County Council has seized nearly 750,000 illegal cigarettes and nearly 60,000 grams of illegal hand-rolling and shisha tobacco.


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