AN ELGIN MAN who set up a social media page to sell cheap cigarettes ended up on the wrong end of a Trading Standards sting that cost him a £600 fine.
Moray Council’s Trading Standard officers are constantly on the lookout for social media and web pages offering goods for sale at prices that are just too good to be true.
One such search resulted in local officers posing as customers, agreeing to purchase 400 cigarettes – and in so doing proving that the seller was in business for profit which resulted in the issue of a fixed penalty and the contraband being confiscated.
Anyone selling tobacco products is required by law to be registered – while the goods being sold should also carry the standard Government Health Warnings. In this case there was a clear breach on both, as well as the seller breaking a legal ban on tobacco advertising.
Moray Trading Standards manager Peter Adamson said: “Trading Standards staff monitor social media sites and have been working with group administrators to block these sorts of sales.
“Sales of cut-price illicit tobacco and cigarettes undermine efforts to reduce the huge harm caused by smoking. Action to prevent illegal sales is part of wider efforts by the Council, NHS and other partners to reduce smoking rates.”
The Elgin man had been advertising Polish brand cigarettes on Facebook over a three month period – but was unaware that his activities were being closely monitored by Trading Standards.
Mr Adamson warned potential customers to be wary of such purchases and never be tempted by offers of cheap cigarettes or tobacco which is either smuggled, counterfeit or both. In addition their sale is almost always linked with organised crime.
Councillor Chris Tuke last night praised the work of local Trading Standards officers: “Criminals will always find ways of selling contraband to an unsuspecting public, so I’m pleased to see our officers acting swiftly to shut these down.
“Peter and his team do a great job protecting the public from these dodgy dealers.”