January 21, 2023
By Michael Kenwood, Local Democracy Reporter
The first prosecution in Northern Ireland for the sale of an e-cigarette to a child aged under 18 has led to a fine this week for a North Belfast shop owner.
At Belfast Magistrates Court on Tuesday (January 17) Jonathan Johnston, of Wee Mo’s, Alexandra Park Avenue, pleaded guilty to illegal sale of nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/vapes) to a child under 18. He was fined £250 with additional court costs.
The case was brought by Belfast City Council after an officer from the council’s tobacco control team organised a test purchase exercise on the premises. During the test purchase, a sale of an e-cigarette was made to a person under 18. This is the first case in Northern Ireland of its kind.
In 2021, Jonathan Johnston and Wee Mo’s made headlines after speaking out about a robbery in his shop.
He descibed a man entering the shop armed with a knife and demanding money from the 17-year-old staff member working at the counter. The only other person in the shop at the time was an 11-year-old customer.
The man made off with a few hundred pounds from the till. Mr Johnston said the event had “destroyed two kids’ lives.”