A former company director who told officers counterfeit cigarettes at her store were for her husband’s personal use, has been fined £200.

Mrs Jian Mei Xiao, 47, of Dunton Road, Leyton initially denied selling the illicit tobacco at China House in Leyton High Road when the store was raided in May 2017.

Mrs Xiao pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates Court on August 11 2017 to a trade mark offence relating to the possession of counterfeit Marlboro Gold cigarettes.

She was ordered to pay a £200 fine and £594 costs.

The fine came after a joint operation between Waltham Forest Council’s Trading Standards and Food Standard officers.

The illegal manufacturing or counterfeiting of a well-known tobacco products such as Marlboro, known as ‘illicit whites’, are completely unregulated and manufactured without the consent of the brand owners.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Member for the Environment, said:

“Selling dangerous products like counterfeit cigarettes, not only harms people, it also harms the public purse.

“We will continue to crack down on any counterfeit goods and do what we can to protect the public.”

Illicit cigarettes are usually sold cheaply in street markets, under the counter in shops and pubs, from street hawkers or from a private address commonly known as ‘fag houses’.

The trade involves global supply chains where products are smuggled into the UK by criminal gangs who are linked to drug smuggling, people trafficking and terrorist organisations.

The illicit tobacco market costs the UK around £2.1bn a year.