Swoop across three businesses for illicit e-cigarette and tobacco sales

A swoop across three Lancashire businesses saw e-cigarettes sold to underage test purchasers, including one dressed in school uniform.

Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards Officers prosecuted two businesses at Preston Crown Court and one at Preston Magistrates Court recently for illegal e-cigarette sales to children.

The first case saw Zaishan Jahanghir, the owner of Mr Zees takeaway on Chapel Street, Chorley plead guilty to four offences at Lancaster Magistrates court in December. He was caught on video encouraging a 13-year-old volunteer test purchaser to tell their friends that they were the 'cheapest in town' for vapes.

During the visit, officers found stocks of illicit vapes hidden in take away pizza boxes. The business also faced an offence for advertising e-cigarettes on Facebook.

Jahanghir was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment suspended for 18 months, 150 hours of unpaid work, 15 days rehabilitation activity, a £100 fine for selling an e-cigarette to a child and £150 breaching a suspended sentence for drink driving as well as prohibited from having three or more e-cigarettes in his possession at any one time.

Arif Patel, company director at Euro News Ltd, trading as EN News on Orchard Street in Preston, was sentenced for the sale of an e-cigarette to a 14 year old girl dressed in school uniform. Magistrates fined Patel £250 and ordered him to pay £250 costs. The business, Euro News Ltd was ordered to pay £513 plus £355 in surcharge and costs.

At Preston Crown Court, Mohammed Hamad was sentenced as part of an investigation into the supply of illicit tobacco and vapes, including the sale of a vape to a 14-year-old, at Bacup Mini Market on Union Street last year.

Hamad, who was working at the shop received a 12-month community order with 60 hours of unpaid work and must pay over £700 in costs and victim surcharge.

Proceedings against the shop owner are ongoing.

Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing said: 

"Our Trading Standards officers are kept busy investigating complaints about illicit sales to young people. These cases show that continued criminality will eventually catch up with offenders.

"Not only was Mr Zees takeaway shut down for six months by the district council last year using anti-social behaviour legislation, this shop was causing problems selling vapes to young people alongside pizzas. This is completely unacceptable and had to be dealt with seriously.

"Our Trading Standards team will always take robust action against those who openly break the law.

"We encourage anyone who has concerns about the sale of any age-restricted products to report these to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service helpline on 0808 223 1133."

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