More than 20,000 grams of illegal shisha tobacco products found under Oxford shop counter

Credit: Oxfordshire County Council

A food store owner in Oxford has been fined after more than 20,000 grams of illegal shisha tobacco products were found under a shop counter. 

Mohamed Badache, who owns Zaid Supermarket, Cowley Road, Oxford, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday 29 July.

He pleaded guilty to supplying illegal shisha tobacco.

Following an anonymous tip-off in March 2020, trading standards officers visiting Zaid Supermarket seized the tobacco products from under the shop counter. 

The owner, Mohamed Badache was working behind the till and received a final written warning.

He was told he could face prosecution if illegal shisha tobacco was found again.

In December 2020, officers visited the store and seized 119-unit packs of shisha tobacco totalling 23,500 grams.

None of the tobacco products were labelled with the required statutory warnings and the packaging made reference to a taste, smell or flavouring, all of which are prohibited.

A sample of shisha tobacco labelled with the ‘Irn-Bru’ trademark was subsequently confirmed as being counterfeit. 

Badache, 32, of Maltfield Road, Headington, pleaded guilty to five offences and was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £3,219.19.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “Many people falsely believe that shisha tobacco smoke is somehow filtered by the water in the pipe, or that fruit used to flavour shisha somehow makes it less harmful than cigarettes. The truth is that all the research done on shisha shows one thing: it is as bad for you as cigarettes.

“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.”