4th March 2024

Shopkeeper guilty of underage vape sale

A shop in Wakefield sold an illegal oversized vape to a 14-year-old volunteer.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
The flagrant sale of vapes to children should not be happening within our communities

A shop in Wakefield and its director have been found guilty of selling an illegal oversized vape to a child following a prosecution by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

In August 2023 Milano Market Ltd, operating from 91 Kirkgate in Wakefield, was the subject of a test-purchasing operation by West Yorkshire Trading Standards, with a 14-year-old volunteer entering the store and asking to buy a vape. The child was sold an ENE 3500 Legend Cotton Candy flavoured electronic cigarette for £10, without being asked for identification or challenged about their age.

It is an offence to sell electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to a person under the age of 18. It is also an offence to sell a disposable electronic cigarette with a tank size that exceeds 2 millilitres, or 600 around puffs.

The shop’s director, Mehran Rostami of Sheffield, was subsequently interviewed and took full responsibility for the underage sale. He also said he was not aware of the maximum volume permitted for disposable electronic cigarettes.

At Kirklees Magistrates Court on 29 February, Rostami and the company were found guilty of offences under the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Magistrates fined the company £1,100 and imposed a victim surcharge of £440. It was also ordered that the prosecution costs of £2,089.58 should be split evenly between the company and Rostami.

David Strover, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager — Business Services Team, said: “The flagrant sale of vapes to children should not be happening within our communities. We wrote to businesses to make them aware of complaints we had received and informed them a test purchase may follow.

“The health risks associated with juvenile use of vapes should not be underestimated. Vapes are an adult product suitable for ex-smokers — the sale of these items to children is not acceptable.

“Shops need to ensure they have systems in place to avoid selling vapes to minors and train their staff accordingly. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco and vapes in our communities.”

Councillor Melanie Jones, Chair of  West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards, commented: “It is clearly irresponsible not to check the age of teenage customers wanting to purchase age-restricted goods. Test purchases are undertaken regularly by Trading Standards staff to ensure shops adhere to the law on vapes, tobacco and alcohol sales.

“The simple task of asking for identification and verifying the age of younger customers will help to reduce underage vaping and tobacco use.”

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