A SHOPKEEPER from Ilfracombe has been fined more than £1,000 for selling illegal tobacco.
Alan Jackson, 64, of Castle Terrace, appeared at North Devon Magistrates' Court in Barnstaple on Wednesday, August 21.
Jackson pleaded guilty to selling the tobacco after an investigation by Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Service.
Jackson, who owns Jackson's Shoe Repairs was charged with offences relating to selling and, having available to supply, tobacco which didn't have the legally required health warnings.
He was also charged with failing to display the correct age warning statement.
The court heard how, on December 11, 2012, an undercover Devon County Council Trading Standards officer visited Mr Jackson's store.
The officer bought two pouches of Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco and two pouches of Cutters Choice hand-rolling tobacco. During the operation the officer used reported code words supplied in intelligence reports to make the purchase.
Something which the prosecution said proved Mr Jackson was aware that the sale of the tobacco was illegal.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's cabinet member with responsibility for Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Service, said illegal sale of tobacco was a serious offence.
He said: "Mr Jackson's actions could have damaged the local economy by taking trade away from genuine hard-working businesses.
"He unfairly undercut legitimate traders and gained a competitive advantage at their expense. Illegal sales of tobacco in the South West also has a huge impact on people's health, and it is widely thought that the current lower life expectancy of people living in Ilfracombe is partly affected by the wide availability of illicit tobacco in the area.
"We will not tolerate the illegal sales of tobacco, and will continue to take firm action to stop this type of activity by using our enforcement powers against anyone we catch."
Jackson's shop was searched and a quantity of both Golden Virginia and Cutters Choice Tobacco was found hidden.
He was fined £1,700 and ordered to pay costs of £1,057.
Anyone wanting to report the illegal selling of tobacco can do so anonymously online to Trading Standards at www.stop- illegal-tobacco.co.uk
Phone the charity Crime-stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestop pers-uk.org.