A woman has narrowly escaped prison for possessing dangerous cigarettes in Mansfield.
Elita Zvingule, 53, of Wood Street, Mansfield, who traded at Saulite in the town, admitted possessing 1,300 dangerous cigarettes which did not comply with safety standards and were at risk of not self-extinguishing when lit.
She was handed an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, when she appeared at Mansfield magistrates’ court last Thursday. She was also ordered to pay £700 in prosecution costs.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s trading standards team visited Saulite in Wood Street last year and attempted a test purchase but were not sold any cigarettes.
While they were there, the officers carried out an inspection and a number of packets of cigarettes were recovered from a storeroom at the premises.
They also found more illicit cigarettes in the flat above the shop.
Ms Zvingule was arrested and said that she had owned the shop since April 2015 and said that she only sold the illicit tobacco to friends having bought it from a Facebook contact.
She said that although she knew they were illegal, she did not think they were unsafe.
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, chairman of the community safety committee at the county council, said: “We welcome this latest result in court. We have been consistently waging war on the sale and distribution of illicit tobacco in order to protect our local communities and this is the latest example of court action.
“Our work demonstrates how our trading standards team, in conjunction with colleagues in public health, are taking action to get illegal tobacco off our streets.
“Illegal tobacco puts individuals at increased risk of fires and these results further demonstrate the county council is determined to protect our communities from this sort of crime.
“Genuine cigarettes have a safety feature which means they extinguish if they are left unattended; counterfeit cigarettes do not have this feature. Nationally the cost of smoking-related house fires is estimated at £507million per year.”