27th July 2023

Closure order for underage vape shop

A shop in Devon that sold vapes and drug paraphernalia to children has been ordered to close.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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This was a shocking and blatant attempt to sell counterfeit and illegal cigarettes, tobacco and vaping products to the public, including children

A shop which sold vapes and drug paraphernalia to children has been ordered to close following an investigation by Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service (HoTSW TS) and Avon and Somerset Police.

The European Shop in North Street, Taunton, was also discovered to be selling illicit tobacco, with a specially fabricated structure on the roof being used to deliver illegal items directly into the shop.

Inside the structure were 2,433 packets of illegal cigarette and 323 pouches of illegal tobacco, worth an estimated £15,300. A quantity of non-compliant vapes were also seized.

Magistrates granted the closure order for three months after being informed that vapes and drug paraphernalia were being sold to people under the age of 18 and that anti-social behaviour was a problem in the local area.

In December, a closure order was also obtained for the Quickstop Mini Market in High Street.

Sharon Anderson, Group Manager Investigations and Compliance, HoTSW TS, said: “Tobacco and vape enforcement is one of our top priorities due to the huge increase in vaping we’ve seen over the last few years.

“Vapes help smokers to kick the habit; but unfortunately, the bright colours and sweet flavours also attract young people and even children and that’s why it is essential that store owners remain vigilant when selling these products.

“Illegal vapes, such as those seized during visits like this, have an additional public health risk. Often they have excessively high levels of nicotine, over the limits set by law and this makes them highly addictive and potentially harmful to a person’s health.

“We will continue to work in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police to carry out test purchases on a regular basis.”

Cerwyn Pritchard, Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinator at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “This was a shocking and blatant attempt to sell counterfeit and illegal cigarettes, tobacco and vaping products to the public, including children.

“The illicit activities at this store were having a significant impact on the local community with reports of anti-social behaviour and intimidation.

“We worked closely with our Trading Standards partners to build a strong and compelling case for a closure order, to help put an end to the corrosive impact this store was having on the neighbourhood.

“We’re pleased the court has granted this order and we won’t hesitate to take similar action against any other business owners acting in this way.”

 

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