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First prosecution in NI of business over underage vape sale

January 21, 2023

Photo: iStock

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.”