A TOWN centre shopkeeper has praised the efforts of the police and trading standards in flushing out the stores selling illegal cigarettes.
Shaid Hussain, who runs Good News, in Station Street, said those who chose to sell illicit goods were taking custom away from genuine stores.
But he raised concerns that the irresponsible actions of some shop owners could damage the perception of all off-licences in the town centre.
Officers swooped on three town centre off-licences last week, unearthing ten thousand counterfeit and non UK duty cigarettes.
The Queens Supermarket, in Borough Road, Smakus, in Derby Street, and High Street News, in High Street, all received a visit from the authorities after failing test purchases, with the latter just yards away from Mr Hussain’s Good News.
Mr Hussain said genuine traders detested the way some shops were profiting from illegal goods which were in turn hitting competitors as well as potentially endangering the health of the public.
Trading standards chiefs told how they had previously found counterfeit cigarettes containing rat and mouse droppings.
Mr Hussain said: “If these people continue to sell these cigarettes it is taking business away from shops like us - our margin is five per cent on cigarettes.
“Someone buying counterfeit cigarettes doesn’t know what is in them.”
Mr Hussain said he was also concerned that people would begin to distrust all newsagents following last week’s raids.
He said he was concerned that shoppers would turn their back on off-licences following the raids.
He said: “We have had eight or nine people coming in asking if we got raided and I have to keep telling them that we don’t sell any of that rubbish and that we are a responsible retailer.”
“We have been operating for the last 10 years and we are very strict on that. We want people to be aware that it is not Good News.”