Cheap and Illicit Tobacco


Two pensioners convicted for selling illicit tobacco from a Sheffield Pub

Illegal tobacco undermines the effectiveness of taxation and makes it harder for smokers to quit

illicit tobacco

An elderly couple appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court in November 2019 and pleaded guilty to Trade Marks and other tobacco-related offences. David Dukes, aged 73 of Hanover Street and Alice “Denise” Depalma, aged 69 of Fox Street were both prosecuted for selling and supplying counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes and tobacco from a City Centre Public House.

Trading Standards received information warning of the illegal activity in December 2018. Officers witnessed the couple making sales during their initial observations and obtained video recording of sales being made from nearby CCTV in January. With colleagues from South Yorkshire Police, the couple was stopped and searched outside the pub in March 2019. They were found with counterfeit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco which did not have the correct packaging or required health warnings.

The defence counsel suggested the couple were not selling on a daily basis but were unlucky to have been “caught in the act” on the three separate occasions spanning a 4 month period. The Magistrates were more inclined to accept that the defendants had been selling tobacco products in this manner on a regular basis.

Both David and Denise were fined £150 by the courts and ordered to pay £250 costs and a £30 victim surcharge each. The court also ordered a forfeiture and destruction order for all tobacco seized.

“Our trading standards service work hard to protect the public from traders operating illegally to ensure legitimate business can thrive” Trading in illicit tobacco and avoiding tax and excise duty means money for essential NHS Service is reduced.

I hope this action is a warning to others who are selling illicit cigarettes and demonstrates that we do take this issue very seriously. I would ask anyone who suspects or knows illegal sales are happening to report it so that we can put a stop to it.”

– Greg Fell, Director of Public Health at Sheffield City Council

Illicit cigarettes are priced on average at just £4.50 per pack, this is in line with 1980’s prices, and illegal cigarettes are often sold in singles. This makes it easier for children to buy cigarettes for pocket money prices, enabling them to get hooked on deadly tobacco addiction from a young age.

Each week in Sheffield there is 16 smoking-related deaths and 5 children start smoking every day. Smoking is the single biggest cause of illness and death in the city and a major contributor to the differences in health outcomes between the city’s richest and poorest communities.

“Illicit tobacco is typically smoked by people on low incomes making these inequalities worse. We are committed to supporting people out of tobacco addiction and a key part of our Tobacco Control Strategy is tackling the illicit market. We take every precaution to ensure our children don’t start smoking and take up a deadly habit that kills 1 in 2 users.

The illegal tobacco trade brings crime into our communities as it is often part of organised criminal activity and is linked to a range of other illegal trades including alcohol and DVD production, people-trafficking and drug smuggling, exploitation, illegal immigrants and money laundering. The availability of it undermines our efforts in reducing tobacco consumption and reducing the harm it causes.

Trading Standards are doing an excellent job in ensuring we stamp out the availability of cheap and illegal tobacco in Sheffield but we know there is more to do and we will continue to be relentless in our approach.”

– Greg Fell, Director of Public Health at Sheffield City Council

To find out more about Smokefree Sheffield, including advice and support to quit visit


Amie Black

Account Executive

0114 221 0378 Email Amie Black