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Shop owner sentenced over sale of illegal vapes

A Haverfordwest shop owner has admitted selling illegal vapes following a Pembrokeshire County Council Trading Standards investigation.

Trading Standards officers had received information that Vape Zone based in Market Street, Haverfordwest, was selling non-compliant vapes.

The business was visited on October 3rd 2023 and the shop assistant given advice regarding illegal vapes and underage sales.

There was a large stock of illegal vapes on open display in the store.

The tanks ranged from 10ml to 18ml with 4,000 puffs to 9000 puffs.

The maximum tank capacity permitted by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 is 2ml (around 600 puffs).

It is an offence for a trader to supply a disposable E-cigarette with a tank that is larger than 2ml.

The assistant voluntarily surrendered all of the non-compliant stock – 352 disposable vapes.

A warning letter, alongside further written guidance, was sent to the company Director, Salar Jaff, on October 6th. No response was received.

On October 19th, further complaints were received that non-compliant vapes were still being sold at Vape Zone.

Trading Standards successfully completed a test purchase of an illegal vape on October 30th although the non-compliant vapes were no longer on display.

The employee who served him was the same employee present on all previous visits.

Following the purchase, officers entered Vape Zone and explained what had happened and asked where the stock was.

The shop assistant directed the officers to an adjoining kitchen cupboard containing a further 116 illegal vapes.

All were seized. There were also eight empty stock boxes (also seized) which would have contained 10 vapes each. This implies at least 84 had already been sold.

Neither the shop assistant nor the owner responded to contact by Trading Standards.

On December 16th, a customer purchased a further illegal vape from Vape Zone.

Appearing before Magistrates in Haverfordwest on June 10th, Jaff admitted four offences under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and two under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Jaff, aged 49 of Beaconsfield Street, Hull, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work, 15 days rehabilitation activity and made subject of a 12 month Community Order.

He was also ordered to pay full costs of £2,307.40, alongside a victim surcharge of £144, bringing the total to £2,421.40.

Following the case Pembrokeshire County Council Public Protection Manager Jeff Beynon, said: “Non-compliant vapes have flooded the UK market and this is an overwhelming issue for local Trading Standards authorities.

“These non-compliant vapes contain a much higher amount of nicotine than is permissible by UK Regulations. This presents a serious risk of harm because nicotine isn’t just highly addictive, it’s also a poison and the vapes in question are very appealable to young people and children.

“Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain and may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs. The surrendered illegal vapes with 18ml tanks are nine times the legal limit, with nine times the maximum amount of nicotine.

“There is also concern that with illegal vapes you never know what may be in them. For example, a counterfeit vape seized by the Derby Trading Standards team was tested in an independent lab and was found to contain, amongst other things, arsenic, lead and formaldehyde.”