Banbury business prosecuted for selling illegal e-cigarette to a child
The owner of a convenience store in Banbury has been prosecuted for selling a disposable e-cigarette to a child, following an investigation carried out by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards service.
The business sold the disposable e-cigarette, sometimes known as a ‘puff bar’ or ‘vape pen’, to a 16 year old test purchaser in March 2022, despite the legal age limit for the sale of e-cigarettes being 18 and over.
On inspection the e-cigarette sold to the test purchaser was also found to not meet the UK packaging standards for e-cigarettes. This was despite a previous warning being issued to the business about the faults present with this particular brand and that they could not be legally sold unless the faults were rectified.
Mr Ashishkumar Patel, 37, the director of Dhwanee Supermarket Ltd in Banbury, was found guilty of two offences following a trial at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Monday 27 March 2023. The first offence related to the sale of a vape to a child and the second was for supplying an e-cigarette that was not compliant with the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.
On 5 May 2023, at the sentencing hearing, Mr Patel was fined £500 in relation to the sale of an e-cigarette to a child and a further £1,000 for selling an e-cigarette that did not meet the UK packaging regulations. Mr Patel was also ordered to pay £2,000 towards the council’s costs and a £150 victim surcharge.
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “It is important that those people who want to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking have access to these products as they are one of the most effective methods of supporting a quit attempt. However, whilst e-cigarettes pose only a small fraction of the risk of traditional cigarettes, they are not risk-free products and we do not encourage young people who have never smoked before to begin using them.
“Many Oxfordshire retailers work very hard to train their staff and implement systems to prevent the sale of such items to children under the age of 18. The apparent rising popularity of disposable e-cigarettes amongst teenagers makes appropriate age verification checks essential and trading standards will continue to make test purchases to ensure that these are being rigorously carried out.
“Anyone who does sell age restricted products but fails to make sure that they have taken adequate precautions should be aware of the serious potential consequences if they fail a test of this kind.
“In addition to this test purchasing work our officers have been responding to complaints from parents and schools about alleged underaged sales at stores across the county and have made dozens of visits to local retailers because of them. These visits have also resulted in us finding thousands of illegal, disposable e-cigarettes, which have been removed from sale. We are now working with retailers to ensure that any devices they do stock in future are fully legally compliant.”
Further information for retailers on how to sell e-cigarettes responsibly, including details and photos of illegal products to avoid, can be found on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.
Anyone with information about the sale of illegal, disposable e-cigarettes or underage sales can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to editors
The sale of any kind of e-cigarette (disposable or not) to a person under the age of 18 is prohibited under Regulation 3 of The Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 and an offence under section 92 (1) of The Children and Families Act 2014.
The requirements for the labelling of e-cigarettes are set out in Regulation 37 of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. The e-cigarette sold on this occasion did not comply with Regulation 37(2)(b) and (d); Regulation 37(3)(c); Regulation 37(4) and Regulation (37)(5)(b).
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