Trading Standards officers in Moray have undertaken a clampdown on individuals in the region using an online second-hand sales website to sell cigarettes and tobacco products illegally.
Tax-free cigarettes or other tobacco products brought from overseas sources for personal use cannot be resold legally in the UK, with those caught doing so subject of stringent fixed penalty fines in the first instance and possible harsher penalties if they continue to trade.
The popular online auction and sales site ‘Gumtree’ was targeted by Moray Council Trading Standards officers who made test purchases to identify sellers. If these sellers are found not to be registered as legitimate traders licensed by the Scottish Government then they could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted.
As a result of the test purchases in Moray two local residents have each received fines of £500.
Peter Adamson, who is manager of Moray Trading Standards, said: “Illegal sales undermine Government efforts to reduce harm caused by smoking and damage local businesses that play by the rules.
“Trading Standards will continue to enforce tobacco legislation, including sales through social media and online auctions. On this occasion, the cigarettes where genuine – however, illicit tobacco is often counterfeit and brings extra health risks from heavy metals and other contaminants.”