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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Bradford business fined for selling e-cigarettes to minors

On 28 March 2024, Mr Muhammad Usman of Bradford appeared at Bradford Magistrates Court to answer charges relating the sale of a disposable e-cigarette to a 15-year-old child at the premises Phone Xpert, 606 Little Horton Lane, Bradford, BD5 0PD. Both Muhammad Usman and his company Phone Xpert Bradford Ltd were to answer the charges. It is an offence to sell an electronic cigarette containing nicotine to anyone under 18. The electronic cigarette itself was illegal as it was oversized, containing more than the permitted 2ml of nicotine liquid.

E-cigarette. Image: Sven Kucinic by Unsplash

Mr Usman pleaded guilty to offences under the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 on behalf of himself and as the director of the company. The Magistrates issued Mr Usman with a fine for £120 which was reduced from £180 due to an early guilty plea. Mr Usman was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £48 and costs of £1,138.25, totalling £1,306.25. The Magistrates issued the Company with a fine of £750, a victim surcharge of £300 and costs of £1,138.25, totalling £2,188.25.

The case was launched after West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service received a complaint from a member of the public that the business was selling vapes to children.

In April 2023, a 15 year old volunteer entered the shop under the supervision of a Trading Standards Officer and asked to buy a vape. The seller sold an Elux 3500 Apple, Peach, and Pear flavour disposable e-cigarette to the volunteer for £10, without asking for identification or challenging his 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 capacity that exceeds 2 millilitres, or about 600 puffs. Mr Usman was interviewed at a later date where he took full responsibility for the sale and said he said he was not aware that the disposable e-cigarettes containing nicotine carried a minimum age restriction and he was not aware of the maximum volume permitted for disposable e-cigarettes. Mr Usman said that he had since removed all stock of electronic cigarettes from his shop.

David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Services Team said, “the sale of vapes  to children 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 juvenile use of vapes should not be underestimated. Vapes are an adult product suitable for ex-smokers – the sale of vapes to children is unacceptable. Retailers 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 vapes and tobacco in our communities.”

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