Bicester shop owner faces fine after selling vape to 15-year-old child

A Bicester shop owner has been fined after he was caught selling a disposable e-cigarette vape pen to a 15-year-old child.
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Mr Nevilkumar Mody, the director of Haridisharn Ltd., who trades as Bicester Local and Post Office on Sheep Street, has been ordered to pay £2,500 following an investigation by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards service.

The 35-year-old pleaded guilty and was convicted of the single offence at Oxford Magistrates Court on Monday (September 25). He was fined £400 and made to pay £160 in victim surcharge and £2,037 to the council, which brought the prosecution.

The shopkeeper was caught selling a peach ice flavour disposable e-cigarette, known as a vape pen, to a 15-year-old test purchaser, despite the legal age limit of 18 and over.

A Bicester town centre shop owner has been ordered to pay a fine after being caught selling a vape pen to a 15-year-old child.A Bicester town centre shop owner has been ordered to pay a fine after being caught selling a vape pen to a 15-year-old child.
A Bicester town centre shop owner has been ordered to pay a fine after being caught selling a vape pen to a 15-year-old child.

When making the sale in January this year, Mr Mody who is also responsible for training the shop’s staff on legal compliance with age-restricted products, did not ask the test purchaser anything about their age or ask for any identification that would have shown the customers age.

Cllr Kate Gregory, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community services and safety, said: "E-cigarettes are one of the most effective methods of supporting someone to quit smoking.

"However, while e-cigarettes pose only a small fraction of the risk of traditional cigarettes, they are not risk-free products, and we do not encourage young people who have never smoked before to begin using them.

"The trading standards teams will continue to make test purchases of this kind to ensure that adequate precautions are being taken by retailers to prevent the sale of such products to children."

The Bicester Local and Post Office was one of several shops visited as part of the operation based on information from complaints by local residents, a local councillor, and the local policing team.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of trading standards, said: "Many Oxfordshire retailers work very hard to train their staff and implement systems to prevent the sale of such items to children. The rising popularity of disposable e-cigarettes amongst teenagers makes appropriate age verification checks absolutely essential.

"Those who don’t follow the rules not only put children at risk but also gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. We will continue to respond to community concerns in this area, prioritising the health and wellbeing of residents and helping to create a level playing field for businesses to operate within."

Further information for retailers on how to sell e-cigarettes responsibly, including details and photos of illegal products to avoid, can be found on Oxfordshire County Council’s website here oxfordshire.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/advice-communities/e-cigarettes-and-vape-pens

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal, disposable e-cigarettes or underage sales can report it to the trading standards via the national consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.