A shopkeeper who sold cigarettes to a child has been fined following an investigation by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS).
Bawan Rassoul, trading as Mero’s Mini-market Ltd of Lockwood Road, Huddersfield, came to the attention of WYTSS after complaints were received about the shop selling cigarettes to underage customers. In September 2022 a 15-year-old volunteer entered the shop, under the supervision of a Trading Standards Officer, and asked to buy a pack of cigarettes. She was able to buy a packet of Sterling Superking Original Red cigarettes for £12.29, without being challenged about her age or asked for any form of ID by Rassoul. It is an offence to sell cigarettes to a person under the age of 18.
When interviewed later Rassoul said he thought the test purchaser was 18 or 19 years old. He believed he had taken all reasonable precautions and apologised in his statement for his poor judgement.
On 4 May Rassoul appeared at Kirklees Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to his company committing the offence under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and was fined £660 reduced to £440 for a guilty plea. He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £176 and costs of £1599.79. Rassoul also pleaded guilty to permitting the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18 through his business.
David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Services Team at WYTSS, said: “The flagrant sale of cigarettes to children just should not be happening within our communities. We wrote to this business to make them aware of complaints we had received and informed them a test purchase may follow. The health risks associated with tobacco are considerable and shops need to ensure they have systems in place to avoid selling tobacco to minors.
“Trading Standards will continue to investigate allegations and make test purchases to reduce the prevalence of this issue. 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 in our communities.”