16/05/2024 - Permalink

Shrewsbury store owner pleads guilty to illegal vape and cigarette sales

Related topics: Corporate / Public protection

The owner of the Baltic store on Whitchurch Road, Shrewsbury has been given a three months’ community punishment and ordered to pay more than £5,000 for the sale of oversize vapes and counterfeit cigarettes, including one underage sale.

In Telford Magistrates Court on Tuesday 14 May 2024, Subhan Leshkri Abdulkhalik pleaded guilty to all offences on behalf of himself and his company. The prosecution was brought by Shropshire Council.

Under the community punishment he must be tagged and remain in his property from 10pm to 6am. He must also pay costs of £4,858.39 and a victims surcharge of £114. He must also pay £200 on behalf of Baltic for the sale of counterfeit cigarettes.

The court also ordered forfeiture and destruction of all items seized.

The court heard that in September 2023 a 17-year-old female volunteer was sold a vape at Baltic during an underage sales exercise – carried out following reports that underage sales of vapes were taking place at the premises, and that the vapes being sold were oversized and therefore illegal.

The sale was unusual because the volunteer was ushered to an area away from the till, to select the vape from a large carrier bag. Not only was an age-restricted product sold to a child, but the vape was also illegal as the nicotine tank was 12ml  – the legal limit is 2ml.

Following the underage sale, the shop was inspected and 142 oversized vapes seized from the bag that the volunteer had chosen from. In addition, from a padlocked store building outside the shop a further 102 illegal vapes, along with counterfeit packets of cigarettes and 27 counterfeit packets of hand rolling tobacco (50g) were seized.

Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning and regulatory services, said:

“Our trading standards team wants to work with businesses to ensure they comply with the law and act responsibly. However, where necessary we will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action, as this case shows.

“The law relating to sales of alcohol, tobacco, nicotine vaping products, fireworks and other age-restricted products and services exists to protect children and young people from harm – and for this reason the council takes its role in preventing sales of age-restricted products very seriously.

“There is increasing evidence that our young people are starting to use vapes from a much younger age and that vaping is not only seen as a smoking cessation tool. The council is focused on trying to ensure children and young people do not start vaping, if they have never smoked. The enforcement work that our trading standards team undertakes is crucial to getting this message across to young people and their parents.

“We regularly carry out test purchasing exercises to ensure businesses are complying with the law, and will take enforcement action to prevent unacceptable and illegal sales across the retail sector.”

The offences to which Subhan Leshkri Abdulkhalik and Baltic pleaded guilty were:

  • 1 x underage sale
  • 7 x sale of tobacco related products (oversize vapes and labelling)
  • 4 x unauthorised use of trademark (counterfeit) cigarettes & tobacco
  • 7 x sale of tobacco related products (oversize vapes and labelling)
  • 4 x unauthorised use of trademark (counterfeit) cigarettes and tobacco