South Ayrshire Council is the first local authority in Scotland to prosecute a seller of illegal tobacco under new Scottish Government registration rules – and also obtain a South Ayrshire-wide Banning Order against the seller.
John Scullion (50) from Ayr, who has previous convictions for illegal cigarette and tobacco sales, was investigated by the Council after a tip-off that he was still selling illegal tobacco products to people outside Ayr Sunday market.
Working with Strathclyde Police, Council Trading Standards Officers undertook a covert test purchase, to identify the people involved and to examine the products being sold. An examination established that the tobacco was illegal – and Mr Scullion was arrested.
Appearing at Ayr Sheriff Court, Mr Scullion pled guilty to a number of charges for his involvement with the illegal sale of tobacco products and for selling tobacco products while not registered to do so with the Scottish Government – believed to be the first conviction of its kind. He was fined £630.
However, in separate proceedings at Ayr Sheriff Court on Thursday 16 August 2012, South Ayrshire Council was also granted a Tobacco Retailing Banning Order against Mr Scullion for his continued involvement in the supply of illicit tobacco in South Ayrshire.
The Banning Order is the first to be granted in Scotland and breaching it is an offence that may attract a £20,000 fine, six months in jail – or both.
Speaking after the unprecedented convictions Councillor John McDowall, Portfolio Holder for trading standards issues, said: "I'm absolutely delighted we have been able to use the new legislation to deliver this double blow to a known illicit tobacco seller.
"We all know that tobacco is not good for your health, but illegal sellers cause a particular concern as there is no way of ensuring that the product complies with the law which aims to protect people's health."
He added: "The sale of illicit products, including tobacco, also threatens the livelihood of law abiding South Ayrshire traders, shopkeepers and businesses who work very hard to make a living, pay taxes and provide employment.
"I hope these successful convictions serve as a deterrent to anyone thinking about, or involved in the sale of illegal tobacco, or other fake goods.
"Our legal double first sends out a clear message that we will pursue every means available to put a stop to this and similar criminal activity. I would also would urge anyone with information on these sellers to contact us in absolute confidence on 01292 616060."