Sheraz Ahmed, company director of Leeds, England-based e-cigarette store DiamondVapesUKLtd, appeared at Bickers Magistrates’ Court on June 23 on charges of selling e-cigarette products to minors, according to a June 26 report by British media outlet YEP.
According to media reports, in October 2022, a 14-year-old volunteer entered DiamondVapes under the supervision of a UK Trading Standards Regulation officer and asked to purchase an e-cigarette. Store clerk Shaheer Muhammed sold the volunteer an eLuxCottonCandy 3,500-puff e-cigarette for £10, without asking for any identification or age verification.
It is illegal in the UK to sell nicotine-containing e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18, and it is also illegal to sell disposable e-cigarettes with a capacity of more than 2ml (about 600 puffs per e-cigarette).
Muhammed pleaded guilty to an offence under the Children and Families Act 2014 and paid a fine of £100. He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £40 and £344.62 in court costs.
Being the head of the business, Ahmed was then interviewed. In his defence, he said he was unaware of the maximum capacity limit for disposable e-cigarettes and was said to have been out of the UK when the test purchase was made.
Ahmed pleaded guilty to breaches of the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 by the company. He was fined £3,000, which was reduced to £2,000 as a result of the plea. He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £800 and £3,000 in court costs.
David Strover, Trading Standards Business Services Team Manager, said: “There must be no blatant sale of e-cigarettes to children in our communities. We wrote to the business to make them aware of the complaints we had received and to advise them of the possibility of a test purchase.
“The health risks associated with e-cigarette use by youth should not be underestimated. E-cigarettes are adult products suitable for ex-smokers and their sale and use to children is unacceptable. Stores need to ensure they have systems in place to avoid selling e-cigarettes to minors and train their staff accordingly.
Sincere thanks to all of our partners and the public for reporting illegal sales and encouraging everyone to continue to do so, thereby reducing the harm that tobacco and e-cigarettes cause to our communities.”
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, a member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees trading standards provision, said, “It is clearly irresponsible not to verify the age of young customers purchasing restricted goods. Trading standards officers regularly conduct test purchases to ensure that stores are complying with the legal requirements for the sale of e-cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol. Simply asking for identification and verifying age would help reduce the use of e-cigarettes and tobacco by minors.”