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Illicit and dangerous cigarettes hidden

Two off-licences have had the status of their Premises Licence, for the sale of alcohol, considered by a Sub-Committee of Boston Borough Council's Licensing Committee after they were found selling illicit cigarettes - they were so dangerous they may have contained rat droppings and human excrement.

Biedraonka, at 77a High Street Boston had their licence revoked after being found selling non-duty paid alcohol and illicit cigarettes and Tatry, 17 West Street, Boston had it's licence suspended for two months and the Designated Premises Supervisor was removed from the licence by the Council's sub-committee following the Police calling for a review of their licences

The stores were targeted by Lincolnshire Police and the sub-committee heard from them how as part of a countywide test purchase exercise investigating illegal/illicit and counterfeit cigarettes, the premises failed two separate test purchases and were found to be selling foreign branded cigarettes.

Lincolnshire Police raided the premises on High Street and found a hide containing approximately 400 packets of cigarettes, five bottles of vodka that were being sold without a UK duty stamp, and 600 cans of beer being sold at below the mandatory price.  All of which are criminal offences. These were discovered behind a tiled wall. The premises on West Street was found to be hiding illegal cigarettes discovered in an electronic "hide" behind the counter. Controlled by a key fob this store would hide the illicit cigarettes behind the small display of legal products for sale. Thousands of illegal cigarettes were seized.

The cigarettes seized were a mixture of non-duty, counterfeit and illicit cigarettes.

The counterfeit and illicit cigarettes fail health and safety regulations, do not self-extinguish and have in the past been found to contain rat droppings, sawdust or even human excrement mixed in with the tobacco.

Fiona White, Boston Borough Council's Principal Licensing Officer, said: The council is committed to robustly dealing with licence holders who commit criminal offences such as the sale of counterfeit and illicit cigarettes and the sale of non duty paid cigarettes and alcohol.

After hearing all the evidence, the licensing committee agreed with the police that the premises had been actively involved in the illegal sale of illicit cigarettes and in the case of the High Street shop, also non duty and below mandatory price alcohol. They believed this activity undermined the licensing objectives.

There is a 21 day appeal process; if no appeal is submitted then the revocation comes into action.