Nuneaton market stallholder prosecuted after ignoring warnings not to sell vaping refills to children

A Nuneaton market stallholder who twice sold e-liquids containing nicotine to children has been successfully prosecuted by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards.

In March 2016, acting on intelligence, Trading Standards Officers asked a 15 year old child volunteer to attempt to purchase a bottle of ‘Mr Smoke Cherry Apple’ e-liquid containing 1.8% nicotine from a Nuneaton market stall on Queens Road run by Martha Jean Young. This was part of a wider enforcement project targeting the sellers of age restricted e-cigarette and vaping products. A sale was made and the stallholder received a written warning.

In August of the same year Trading Standards Officers visited the stallholder to provide her with information and advice on the sale of e-cigarettes and nicotine liquids and Challenge 25. It is a criminal offence to sell nicotine inhaling product, including e-cigarettes and associated products such as refills that contain nicotine, to a young person under the age of 18 years. She was also told that further underage sales enforcement exercises would be carried out in the future.

At the end of that month Trading Standards Officers again visited the stall and a 16 year old child volunteer successfully purchased a bottle of ‘V Juice Cloud Chasing Purple Rain’ e-liquid containing 0.6% of nicotine.

Following this second sale to a child, Warwickshire Trading Standards decided to take a prosecution against the trader.

At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Tuesday 7th March, Martha Jean Young (of Tanyard Close Coventry) pleaded guilty to one offence under the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015.

She was given a Conditional Discharge of 6 months and ordered to pay £200 prosecution costs and a £20 Victim surcharge.

Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“Whilst e-cigarettes and vaping equipment may benefit adults attempting to quit smoking, these products, which contain the highly addictive drug nicotine, are not designed for use by children.”

Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee added:

“This prosecution was the result of a wider e-cigarette and vaping enforcement exercise providing advice and guidance to retailers. I would urge all Warwickshire retailers selling age restricted products to operate Challenge 25 and approach Trading Standards if they require further help or advice.”

In mitigation Ms Young stated that she had felt poorly on the day of the sale and a member of her staff had not turned up for work, leaving her with more to do.

Warwickshire retailers requiring help or guidance relating to the sale of age restricted products can contact Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

For more details on NHS Stop Smoking Services in Warwickshire go to www.quit4good.co.uk or phone 0800 085 2917.