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Retailers warned not to sell vapes to children after two store owners appear in court

June 8, 2024

Photo: iStock

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

Businesses have been warned not to sell vapes to children after two prominent Bradfordcity centre businesses were prosecuted after a 13-year-old was able to buy illegal products.

The teen visited a number of city centre stores as part of a test purchase operation by Trading Standards, and was sold oversized vapes in City Phones on Ivegate and A-Star Phones on Market Street.

The incidents led to owners of both stores appearing in court and being fined for underaged sales and the sale of oversized products.

Both stores sold a vape to the child despite having been given a warning by Trading Standards that a visit was likely.

The two prosecutions follow a similar prosecution last month related to another prominent city centre shop – Moes on Bridge Street.

Appearing at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court last Thursday Muhammad Asghar, owner of A-Star Phones, pleaded guilty to stocking an oversized vape in the store.

He also pleaded guilty on behalf of the business, to supplying a vape to someone under the age of 18.

The test purchased happened on August 17.

Waseem Raja, prosecuting on behalf of Trading Standards, said: “There were suggestions that this business was selling vape products to people under the age of 18.

“Trading Standards sent out advice warning them and advising them a test purchase may take place.”

A 13-year-old entered the store and asked for a Crystal Pro-Max 4000+ vape.

Mr Raja added: “He was able to buy it – he wasn’t challenged, he wasn’t asked for any ID, he wasn’t asked how old he was.

“The additional issue is that this product had an oversized tank that was not compliant with legislation.”

He explained that the legal maximum tank size was 2ml, and the product sold to the child had a 10ml tank.

Asghar was later interviewed and said although he was present at the time of the visit, he did not carry out the sale.

Mr Raja said Asghar, 41, of Hathaway Avenue, had provided no training to his staff, and he himself had no training into the sale of tobacco products.

He added: “He had simply told his staff not to sell tobacco items to people under 18.

“When asked about the oversized vape he said he didn’t know the rules, and said other shop keepers were selling them.”

The court was told that Asghar had decided to stock vapes as his phone business was “quite slow” – and he decided to tap into the growing vape market.

He no longer sells tobacco related products as this incident proved “they weren’t worth the hassle”.

He only took about £600 from the business each month – the court heard.

He was fined £96 for the sale of the unauthorised product, along with being ordered to pay £250 costs and a £38 surcharge.

The business was fined £92 for the underaged sale and ordered to pay £500 costs and a £37 surcharge.

In total Asghar will have to pay £1,013.

Tasadak Hussain appeared on behalf of City Phones, and pleaded guilty to one charge of selling a vape to a 13-year-old and one charge of selling a Prime Bar 8000 – an oversized vape.

Mr Raja, also prosecuting this case, said Trading Standards had received complaints about City Phones selling vapes to children.

The business was warned via letter that a test purchase could follow.

On August 17 a 13-year-old test purchaser and undercover Trading Standards officer visited the store, and the teen was sold the oversized vape.

Mr Raja said: “He was not challenged or asked for any information about his age.”

When Trading Standards contacted Hussain, 36, of Duckworth Grove, he said he was the owner of the business and so had full responsibility.

He had no training on selling tobacco products, and did not keep any records of refused sales.

Mr Raja said: “He said he wasn’t aware of the laws regarding nicotine products. He said he purchased the oversized vape from a wholesale market in Manchester, but couldn’t give any more information.

“He said at the time of the sale someone was covering for him while he was out at lunch.”

Magistrates were told that Hussain’s store specialised in mobile phones and mobile phone accessories, but he had decided to branch out and sell vapes as it was a “lucrative market”.

He was fined £410 and ordered him to pay £750 costs and a £82 surcharge.

Councillor Sue Duffy, Portfolio Holder for Living Well and Chair of Bradford’s Tobacco Control Alliance said: “Illegal vapes are usually oversized, that is containing more than 2ml of liquid, over 600 puffs, or over 2 per cent nicotine content.

“Bradford Council is working closely with West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute shops that break the law, and as these cases show we are successful in doing so.

“These prosecutions serve as a warning to other shops selling tobacco and nicotine products illegally, that you will be prosecuted and fined for doing so. If members of the public suspect that a shop is selling oversized vapes or selling vapes to children, they should report them to trading standards by calling 0808 223 1133.”