Guilty plea to illegal shisha tobacco supply

The owner of a Cowley Road food store has pleaded guilty to supplying illegal shisha tobacco, following a prosecution brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards.  

Mohamed Badache – who owns Zaid Supermarket, 78 Cowley Road, Oxford –appeared before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday 29 July. 

The court heard that in March 2020, trading standards received an anonymous tip-off that resulted in officers visiting Zaid Supermarket and seizing over 20,000 grams of illegal shisha tobacco products from under the shop counter. 

Owner Mohamed Badache was working behind the till point at the time and received a final written warning making it clear that the store would be revisited in the future and that he could face prosecution if illegal shisha tobacco was found again.

On 15 December 2020, an undercover officer visited Zaid Supermarket and purchased a 100g pot of Al Fakher watermelon flavour shisha tobacco for £12. The seller on that occasion was Amar Yacine Kacem, the brother-in-law of Mr Badache.  Mr Kacem was dealt with by the courts at an earlier hearing.

As a result, on 21 December 2020, officers again visited the store and seized 119-unit packs of shisha tobacco totalling 23,500 grams. None of the tobacco products were labelled with the required statutory warnings and the packaging made reference to a taste, smell or flavouring, all of which are prohibited. A sample of shisha tobacco labelled with the ‘Irn-Bru’ trademark was subsequently confirmed as being counterfeit. 

Badache, 32, of Maltfield Road, Headington, pleaded guilty to five offences and was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £3,219.19.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “Many people falsely believe that shisha tobacco smoke is somehow filtered by the water in the pipe, or that fruit used to flavour shisha somehow makes it less harmful than cigarettes. The truth is that all the research done on shisha shows one thing: it is as bad for you as cigarettes.

“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


Notes to editors:

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.

Photos attached can be used for publication:

Caption1: Some of the seized shisha tobacco including the Irn-Bru flavour pots.

Caption2: The rest of the seized shisha tobacco.


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