Two individuals from Batley, Abdulrehman Patel and Habibur Patel, appeared before the Kirklees Magistrates Court on 1st June 2023. The charges against them stemmed from selling a disposable electronic cigarette to a person under the age of 18. The incident took place at Patsons News located at Branch Road in Batley. The buyer, a 13-year-old, was part of a controlled test purchase operation conducted by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS).
Abdulrehman Patel, the owner of the business, pleaded guilty to the offence under The Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015, as well as an offence by virtue of The Children and Families Act 2014. He was fined £497, a reduced amount due to an early guilty plea. Additionally, Abdulrehman Patel was ordered to pay a surcharge of £195 and costs amounting to £939.
Habibur Patel, the seller responsible for the transaction, also pleaded guilty to the same offences. He was fined £197, which was reduced due to an early guilty plea. Habibur Patel was further directed to pay a surcharge of £79 and costs totaling £469.
The WYTSS had received complaints about Patsons News selling age-restricted products to individuals under the age of 18, and the business was known to the Trading Standards Service.
In October 2022, officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards, accompanied by a 13-year-old test purchaser, visited Patsons News following the complaints. Despite the purchaser informing the seller of their age, they were able to acquire an Elf Bar 600 disposable electronic cigarette.
Abdulrehman Patel and Habibur Patel cooperated with the officers during the investigation and attended interviews under caution.
Councillor Habiban Zaman, a member of the West Yorkshire Joint Service Committee overseeing the work of Trading Standards, expressed concern over the sale of vapes to children, emphasising the profound implications it poses for public health.
David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Service Team, stated that this test purchase formed part of an ongoing operation to combat shops that illegally sell vapes to minors. He advised retailers to ensure their staff are trained and capable of refusing sales to individuals under 18. Trading standards will diligently investigate and prosecute those found unlawfully selling age-restricted goods.
Consumers who wish to report illegal trading practices, including the sale of age-restricted goods to children, can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. Reports can be made anonymously.