A LANCASHIRE wholesalers has been sentenced for possession and selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

NH Foods Ltd, of Brown Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to the sale, possession and supply of illicit cigarettes and tobacco at Blackburn Magistrates Court.

They were ordered to pay a total of over £6,000 in costs and fines.

Director Majed Hussain pleaded guilty to connivance on the basis that he was aware that staff were supplying illegal tobacco, but failed to stop them.

After complaints from the local area, the shop was proved to have sold illegal tobacco to customers on two occasions.

Brands including Amber Leaf, John Player and Jin Ling were then found hidden in the store when a warrant was served by Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards officers on April 19.

Lancashire Trading Standards service is warning consumers that cheap tobacco is a massive problem in East Lancashire, and that surveys show that it is frequently purchased by children.

There have been almost a hundred incidents of sale or seizure of illegal tobacco in the area in the last twelve months, and a number of successful prosecutions of Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale traders.

Lancashire's chief trading standards officer, Paul Noone, said: "Struggling legitimate local businesses are seeing their trade hit by sales of illegal tobacco.

“Courts are awarding substantial fines and costs for tobacco offences, which is why we are warning unscrupulous traders that if they continue to sell illegal goods, the penalties will outweigh the profits."

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "The council is committed to assisting genuine Lancashire businesses and protecting our residents from cheap illegal tobacco."