Second Nuneaton trader prosecuted for selling vaping liquids to children

A second Nuneaton business has been prosecuted for selling e-liquids containing nicotine to children. Socialites Retail Ltd (trading as) Socialites Zero pleaded guilty to one offence and was fined £2836.

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards took the prosecution after a child volunteer was twice able to purchase e-liquid products containing nicotine from the business.

In March 2016, Trading Standards Officers visited a number of businesses in Nuneaton selling age restricted e-cigarette and vaping products. At each shop Officers asked a 15 year old child volunteer to attempt to purchase a bottle of e-liquid containing nicotine.

One of the traders visited was Socialites Zero, originally based on a stall in the RopeWalk shopping centre. The 15 year old volunteer was able to purchase an e-cigarette liquid with 24mg of nicotine. The employee and the business were given a warning and this was followed by another visit where officers provided information on Challenge 25 and warning posters for the business to display. Staff were also told that further undercover test purchases would be made in the future.

On 31st August 2016 Trading Standards Officers again visited the business (now relocated to Queens Road, with the same child volunteer (now aged 16). The child volunteer asked for an e cigarette liquid called ‘Banana Split’ containing 12 mg of nicotine and this was sold to her.

At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Tuesday 14th March 2017, Socialites Retail Ltd (trading as) Socialites Zero pleaded guilty to one offence contrary to Regulation 3 of the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 and Section 92 (2) of the Children and Families Act 2014.

The Company was fined £2836 to include prosecution costs of £791 and a victim surcharge.

In mitigation, Mr Tomlinson representing Socialites Retail Ltd stated that the business took the matter very seriously and after the second failed test purchase the Company had thoroughly reviewed its procedures and introduced the Challenge 25 scheme.

James Greenaway, Team Manager, Warwickshire Trading Standards said:

“Warwickshire Trading Standards will continue to carry out these undercover enforcement exercises alongside providing help and advice to traders in order to protect the health of children.I would strongly advise any Warwickshire business that sells age restricted products to contact Trading Standards for advice on what they need to do to comply with the law.”

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.