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Kirkham newsagents handed under-age vape sale fine

Mohammed Reehan Khan and Saba Reehan, who run Palace Newsagents in Kirkham, have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £780 for selling an e-cigarette to a 16-year-old girl.

The sale was made during a test purchasing exercise organised by Lancashire County Council's trading standards officers.

On 28 September, the married couple Mr and Mrs Reehan each pleaded guilty at Blackpool Magistrates' Court to an offence under the Children and Families Act 2014. 

The court was told how, on 22 February 2022, the 16-year-old entered Palace Newsagents on Poulton Street, where Mohammed Reehan Khan sold her a 'Watermelon Elf Bar' without challenging her to provide proof of her age. This device is a disposable e-cigarette containing nicotine and the law prohibits sales of nicotine-inhaling products to under-18's.  

Mohammed Reehan Khan said that he was not aware of a minimum age for purchasing e-cigarettes and vapes. His wife, Saba Patel, who owns the business, said that the shop had only started to sell these products in the past six months.  

Mrs Saba Reehan, who owns the business, was fined £115, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £34 and council costs of £125. Her husband, Mr Mohammed Reehan, who sold the Elf bar to the young volunteer, was fined £346, ordered to pay a £35 surcharge and council costs of £125.

Lancashire County Council's trading standards team carried out the test purchase operation in response to an increase in the number of complaints relating to underage sales of vaping products across the county.

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Selling vaping products to children is disgraceful. Vaping can be harmful to the health of young people.

“I congratulate our trading standards team for again successfully taking action against a retailer who was breaking the law. Once again, this case sends out a clear message that we won’t tolerate anyone selling vaping products to children under the age of 18 in Lancashire.

"We work with businesses to ensure they comply with the law and act responsibly. However, we will not hesitate to prosecute, especially where previous advice is ignored.

"The health of our young people in Lancashire is very important to us. Test purchase operations like this are a key part of our plans to protect young people's future health and reduce the burden of smoking on our communities."

It is a criminal offence to sell nicotine inhaling products to anyone under 18. Nicotine inhaling products include e-cigarettes, cartridges and e-liquids.

Angela Lomax, Lancashire County Council's trading standards manager, said: "Lancashire trading standards receives many complaints about sales of age restricted products to young people under 18.

"E-cigarettes and vapes are the products complained of the most. Our officers regularly undertake test purchasing operations relating to the whole range of products and services that are subject to age restrictions.

"When businesses are brought to our attention, we will take action against those breaking the law." 

Anyone wishing to report a shop for selling vapes, e-cigarettes, cigarettes or tobacco to young people under the Age of 18 should ring our Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.