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    Bradford stores fail four out of every five test purchases

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    Illegal cigarettes or vapes were sold during four out of every five Trading Standards test purchases that took place in Bradford stores last year, a recent report has claimed, adding that illicit vapes are becoming increasingly common, with over 5,000 seized from Bradford shops over the past 12 months.

    The report reveals Trading Standards had visited 68 shops in Bradford in 2023, and received 151 complaints about products such as tobacco or alcohol being shown to children. 38 of these visits were test purchases – where volunteers go undercover to see if a shop is selling illegal products. Of these, 80 per cent resulted in the test purchaser being sold an illegal product.

    The other 30 inspection visits resulted in the seizures of illegal tobacco and vapes. Over the 12-month period, officers seized 29,279 20 packets of cigarettes, 1,564 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco and 5,261 oversized disposable vapes.

    Over the past nine years West Yorkshire Trading Standards has seized 10 million illegal cigarettes, 618 kg of hand rolling tobacco and 13,911 illegal oversize vapes. Of those 10m, 3.6m were seized in Bradford.

    Although raids in Bradford that lead to large amounts of tobacco being seized are not new in Bradford, seizures of vapes have become increasingly common in the past year. Many of the seized vapes fall foul of a law that limits the size of such products

    A former shop owner was fined by Magistrates late last year after the court heard a 13-year-old test purchaser had been sold a vape that had enough liquid for 3,500 puffs.

    “Underage sales enforcement activity is undertaken based on an intelligence led approach. WYJS operates to strict criteria in responding to complaints about the sale of age restricted products to children, particularly alcohol and e-cigarettes, and unsafe consumer goods.

    “Between the period December 1 2022 to November 11 2023, WYJS received 151 complaints from the Bradford district about the sale of age restricted products to children. The majority of the complaints related to alcohol, e-cigarettes and tobacco. Test purchase operations took place throughout the year and a number of underage sales were made by the retailers. Investigations are on-going in respect to these matters.

    “WYJS has brought four Premises Licence Reviews to the Licensing Committee as a result of visits made to premises holding alcohol licences, where concealed illicit and counterfeit tobacco and e-cigarette products have been found. Alcohol licences were revoked in three of these cases due to the licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder and preventing harm to children not being upheld,” states the report.

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