Tooting business appears in court for underage vape sale
Published: Monday, October 23, 2023
A trading standards investigation into the unlawful sale of vapes to children has led to a court appearance for a business in Tooting.
The Arena Food market in Upper Tooting Road has been given 28 days to pay a total of £5,100 in fines and costs after admitting selling a vape to a child.
Magistrates heard that trading standards employed a 15-year-old to carry out test purchases of vaping products as part of a crackdown on local businesses flouting the law on the sale of these products to young people. The law states that vapes can only be sold to people aged 18 and over.
Less than a month earlier trading standards officers had visited the shop and explained the law to the manager and left guidance leaflets for other staff members informing them of their legal responsibilities. The manager was also warned that trading standards would carry out test purchases at some stage.
Despite the warning, the young person was able to purchase a strawberry and kiwi flavoured disposable vape without being challenged about his age.
The court heard there then followed a prolonged series of unanswered letters, phone calls and emails, along with missed appointments with investigators which magistrates said showed a lack of co-operation on behalf of the business, in what they described as a very serious matter.
Judi Gasser, Wandsworth’s Cabinet Member for Environment said: “The court was right to describe this as a serious matter. Selling nicotine products to children is a flagrant breach of the law and should be roundly condemned.
“What is concerning is the fact that only weeks before the shop had been reminded of its legal obligations and warned that follow-up action would be taken. That advice and those warnings were clearly ignored and as a result children’s health and welfare was put at risk.
“The financial penalties imposed in this case should be a strong warning to other businesses in the borough that if they flout the law on underage sales they can look forward to a very expensive day in court – not to mention the resulting bad publicity these cases generate.”
The borough’s trading standards team is based in Merton as part of a shared services agreement. Residents concerned about illegal sales of age restricted products or other trading standards matters can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org