South Bristol shops closed amid crackdown on illegal tobacco sales


Two shops in south Bristol have been ordered to close for 48 hours – and could be for months – due to illegal tobacco sales.

Efforts to crack down on the sale of illegal tobacco in Bristol led Trading Standards to order two Bedminster businesses to shut down for 48 hours on Tuesday, September 28.

A court hearing Thursday, September 30, could see the stores – Zabka and Ezee Shop – closed for up to three months.

Councilor Nicola Beech, who is a member of Bristol City Council’s cabinet for climate, ecology, waste and energy, believes the closures are justified.

She said: “This action is unprecedented for Bristol and demonstrates our determination not to tolerate the sale of illegal tobacco products in our city and to continue actions against those who supply and sell them.

“The sale of these products shows little respect for the impact on the health of customers and the local community, as these products often contain higher levels of toxic substances without the necessary health warnings.

Illegal tobacco can be more dangerous because product packaging is unregulated and may contain more toxins Credit: Bristol City Council

“We want to send a strong message to those who sell these products and to the community which is often negatively impacted by the distribution of these products.”

The closure notices were served by council officers, backed by Avon and Somerset Police, due to powers granted by the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Police Act 2014.

It follows an extensive investigation into the sale of illicit products in stores, which were visited several times over a period of several weeks.

The illegal tobacco trade has links to organized crime and has potentially dangerous health implications.

Illegal products often contain higher levels of toxins and are packaged without the proper health warnings.

Both premises remain closed for 48 hours until the hearing in Bristol Magistrates’ Court.

Thursday’s court hearing will decide the closure order which, if successful, could remain in place for up to three months with the possibility of an extension to six months, and will prevent the stores from operating.

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