A London-based retailer has had his tobacco gantry removed by Imperial Tobacco after violating the terms and conditions of his contract, and he will no longer receive any sales support from the company.

Karson Mepani, of Mepani News Kings News, 527 Kingsbury Road, London, was convicted by magistrates for possession of counterfeit tobacco. A raid by local trading standards officers resulted in the discovery and seizure of 5,200 illegal products.

James Hall, anti-illicit trade manager, Imperial Tobacco UK, commented: “Law enforcement authorities and tobacco manufacturers alike continue to demonstrate that the illicit tobacco trade will not be tolerated. It harms honest retailers and damages communities.

“We applaud Brent and Harrow Trading Standards for securing this conviction, while also recognising the wider success of trading standards authorities across the UK in the ongoing fight against illegal tobacco.”

Imperial is continuing to assist in the reporting and investigation of illegal activities. Hall explained: “Our dedicated anti-illicit trade app, Sara, launched in January 2018, and since that time we’ve received almost 2,000 reports of potential illegal tobacco sales. This has resulted in 160 positive seizures and the removal of 126 social media posts.

“We continue to urge any retailers aware of illegal tobacco activity in their locality to contact the appropriate authorities. Alternatively, they should ask their Imperial rep about Sara.”