Oxford food shop fined thousands for selling illegal shisha tobacco

Credit: Oxfordshire County Council

A food store in Oxford has been fined £3,000 for trying to sell illegal shisha tobacco.

More than 21,000 grams of shisha tobacco, which is usually smoked using a pipe - was discovered at Pak Halal Erdem Food Centre- which trades as Erdem Food Centre in Cowley.

The court heard that trading standards visited the store on 6 May 2021 as part of Operation CeCe, a national trading standards initiative in partnership with HMRC. The shisha tobacco was discovered in 113-unit packs were discovered behind the counter. 

None of the packets were labelled with health warnings, and the vast majority made reference to a taste, smell or flavouring, all of which are prohibited.

The company director, Cihan Sigirtmac, 48, pleaded guilty to six offences under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2016.

The company was fined a total of £3000 with Sigirtmac personally also being fined £600.

The court also ordered the seized shisha tobacco to be destroyed.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “In a typical shisha session of about one hour, a shisha smoker can inhale the same amount of toxins as a cigarette smoker consuming over 100 cigarettes. Like cigarette smoking, these toxins put shisha smokers at risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases, cancers, nicotine addiction, and other health effects.

“We know it can be hard to stop using tobacco products but help is available. People are three times more likely to successfully quit by using a stop smoking service like Smokefree Oxfordshire. The service is free to everyone living in the county.” 

As part of Operation CeCe, in the last 12 months, Oxfordshire County Council has seized nearly 750,000 illegal cigarettes and nearly 60,000 grams of illegal hand-rolling and shisha tobacco.