In Bradford Magistrates Court, three traders from Calderdale made separate appearances to face charges of selling an e-cigarette to a 15-year-old. It is deemed unlawful to sell an e-cigarette to anyone under 18. Additionally, two of the traders were found to have sold e-cigarettes that exceeded the permitted 2ml of nicotine liquid, rendering them illegal.
These businesses were already known to the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) due to multiple complaints alleging the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
AA Car Care Ltd, trading under the name Car Care at 26 Burnley Road, Todmorden, pleaded guilty to offences under the Children and Families Act 2014. The company was directed to pay costs amounting to £1088.20, a fine of £1600, and a victim surcharge of £640 within 56 days. The seller, Mr Aminul Islam, was instructed to pay costs of £1088.20, a fine of £242, and a victim surcharge of £97 at a rate of £120 per month.
In December 2022, a 15-year-old volunteer, supervised by a Trading Standards Officer, entered Car Care and requested to purchase a vape. The seller provided a Sweet Strawberry Geek Bar disposable e-cigarette containing nicotine to the volunteer for £4, without requesting identification or verifying his age. Mr Mohammed Islam, the shop’s manager, was interviewed on behalf of the company. He stated that he had provided his staff with “challenge 25” training and now gives more verbal reminders regarding underage sales. He also mentioned that Challenge 25 posters are now displayed in the shop. The seller, Mr Aminul Islam, claimed to have been distracted during the sale as he was packing online orders and keeping an eye on the CCTV, concerned about potential theft in the shop.
Sabhi Singh Dhadda, trading as Towngate Stores at 18 Towngate, Sowerby Bridge, pleaded guilty to offences under the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. He was ordered to pay costs of £2214.80, a fine of £525, and a victim surcharge of £210, to be paid within 56 days.
In December 2022, a 15-year-old volunteer, under the supervision of a Trading Standards Officer, entered Towngate Stores and requested to buy a vape. The seller provided a Vimto Elux 3500 e-cigarette to the volunteer for £11, without asking for identification or verifying his age. Elux 3500 has a tank size of 10ml, which is five times the legal limit. Mr Singh Dhadda later stated that there are no written procedures or formal training, but he does instruct his staff not to sell to anyone under 18. When asked if he knew that it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes with a tank size over 2ml, he mentioned that he believed it was a 2ml tank because it was labelled as 2%.
Arshad Rashid, the director of YSL Trading Ltd, trading as Mad Labels at 20-22 Crown Street, Halifax, pleaded guilty to offences under the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. The company was directed to pay costs of £440.96, a fine of £673, and a victim surcharge of £269 within 3 months. As the director of the company, Mr Rashid was ordered to pay costs of £440.96, a fine of £144, and a victim surcharge of £58 within 3 months.
In December 2022, a 15-year-old volunteer, under the supervision of a Trading Standards Officer, entered Mad Labels and requested to buy a vape. The seller provided a Cotton Candy Elux 3500 e-cigarette to the volunteer for £10, without asking for identification or verifying his age. Elux 3500 has a tank size of 10ml, which is five times the legal limit. Mr. Rashid later gave a prepared statement during an interview. He explained that he took over Mad Labels after the previous business went into liquidation in July 2022. On the day of the sale, he was not present, and he had staff running the business for him.
David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Services Team said, “The flagrant sale of vapes to children just should not be happening within our communities. We wrote to these businesses to make them aware of complaints we had received and informed them a test purchase may follow but the businesses still sold the items to a child. The health risks associated with juvenile use of vapes should not be underestimated. Vapes are an adult product suitable for ex-smokers – their sale to, and use by, 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 Ann Kingstone, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said “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.”
Consumers wishing 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 to report their concerns, and they can choose to do so anonymously.