The first prosecution of its kind brought by a local authority in Great Britain has resulted in a guilty verdict for two convenience store operators who sold illegal disposable vapes.
South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards launched an investigation into businesses operated by Gaurav Kotia, 34, and Ronakkumar Rajendrakumar Parikh, 31, after receiving complaints from members of the public. When officers visited the premises of both businesses in June 2022 they found labelled e-cigarette devices containing up to seven times the 2ml legal limit of nicotine e-liquid.
Appearing at Bristol Crown Court on 11 January, Ariyan (SW) Limited and its sole director, Kotia, pleaded guilty to selling illegal disposable e-cigarettes and being in possession for supply of a further 355 devices.
Krishna Trading (Bristol) Limited and its sole Director, Parikh, also pleaded guilty to selling disposable e-cigarettes and being in possession for supply of a further 291 devices.
Kotia and his company were fined a total of £2,750, ordered to pay council costs £2,500 and required to pay £68 in victim surcharges, whilst Parikh and his company were fined a total of £2,450, ordered to pay council costs £2,950 and required to pay £68 in victim surcharges. The combined total of fines, costs and surcharges comes to £10,786.
Councillor Rachel Hunt, cabinet member responsible for Trading Standards at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “Following intelligence that illegal e-cigarettes are being sold in the South Gloucestershire area, the council’s Trading Standards officers have been undertaking checks to ensure only legal e-cigarettes that have undergone the MHRA submission and notification process are sold to customers.
“During 2022, we’ve seized over 4,000 illegal disposable e-cigarette devices with a retail value of over £32,500. These have now been destroyed in an environmentally friendly way.
“Although vaping is considered far safer than smoking traditional tobacco products, inhaling nicotine through a device is not risk-free. That is why there is legislation in place to regulate products placed on the market.”
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “Trading Standards teams across the UK are working hard to remove illegal vapes from our high streets. The proactive work undertaken by South Gloucestershire Council is to be commended, and the subsequent landmark ruling is a reminder to businesses that selling illegal and non-compliant products will not be tolerated.
“While we recognise that vaping may be a useful quitting aid for smokers, we are worried that there appear to be increasing breaches of the law, with many non-compliant products being sold. There are also growing concerns from Trading Standards colleagues up and down the country that vaping products are being sold or supplied to children and young people, and CTSI will be ramping up our advocacy activities in this area in the future.
“Trading Standards teams are doing vital work by cracking down on the unscrupulous retailers who are selling these products and CTSI continues to support and promote the good work of the profession.”