On 23rd June 2023, Mr Sheraz Ahmed, the proprietor of Diamond Vapes UK Ltd located at 37 The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 6PU, appeared before the Kirklees Magistrates Court in relation to the sale of an oversized disposable electronic cigarette to a 14-year-old child. The court proceedings were initiated following multiple complaints received by the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service regarding the alleged sale of vapes to minors.
During the court hearing, Mr Ahmed pleaded guilty on behalf of his company to offences under the Children and Families Act 2014 and The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. He was subsequently fined £3000, which was reduced to £2000 due to his guilty plea. Additionally, he was ordered to pay a surcharge of £800, along with costs totaling £3000.
In a separate case related to the same incident, Mr Shaheer Muhammed, a shopworker at Diamond Vapes UK Ltd from Bradford, also appeared before the Kirklees Magistrates Court. Mr Muhammed pleaded guilty to committing an offence under the Children and Families Act 2014 and received a fine of £100. He was further directed to pay a surcharge of £40, along with costs amounting to £344.62.
The prosecution was initiated based on an incident that occurred in October 2022, when a 14-year-old volunteer, accompanied by a Trading Standards Officer, entered the premises of Diamond Vapes UK Ltd and attempted to purchase a vape. Mr Muhammed, the seller, sold an eLux Cotton Candy 3500 puffs electronic cigarette to the volunteer for £10.00, without requesting any identification or verifying the individual’s age. It is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to individuals under the age of 18, and it is also prohibited to sell disposable electronic cigarettes exceeding 2 milliliters or 600 puffs.
During the subsequent interview, Mr Ahmed, the company director, stated that he was unaware of the maximum volume allowed for disposable electronic cigarettes and claimed to have been out of the country at the time of the test purchase.
David Strover, the Trading Standards Manager of the Business Services Team, expressed strong disapproval of the sale of vapes to minors, emphasising that such incidents should not occur within the community. In an official statement, Strover highlighted the health risks associated with underage vaping and stressed that these products are intended for adult smokers, not children. Strover urged shops to implement effective systems to prevent the sale of vapes to minors and to provide adequate training to their staff. He expressed gratitude to the public and collaborative partners for reporting illegal sales, encouraging continued vigilance to minimise the harm caused by tobacco and vaping within the community.
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, a member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee responsible for overseeing the work of Trading Standards, condemned the irresponsible behaviour of failing to check the age of teenage customers seeking to purchase age-restricted goods. Grahame emphasised that test purchases are regularly conducted by trading standards staff to ensure compliance with laws governing the sale of vapes, tobacco, and alcohol. Grahame stressed the importance of simply requesting identification and verifying the age of young customers as a means to reduce underage vaping and tobacco use.
Consumers who wish to report illegal trading practices, including the sale of age-restricted goods to children, can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline at 0808 223 1133. Reports can be made anonymously, allowing concerned individuals to play a vital role in combating illicit sales.