A business in Epsom has been ordered to pay over £3,000 after a member of staff sold a child a packet of cigarettes.
According to local reports, a 15-year-old boy, who was part of a Trading Standards test purchase, was able to buy a packet of 20 Richmond King sized cigarettes for £5 when he visited at 24hr General Market on Little Horton Lane on April 3.
The member of staff Maria Tirnakova, who sold the boy the cigarettes, told a court that she had been given no training on how to deal with potential under aged sales. She appeared at Bradford Magistrates Court on Thursday (8) and was charged with selling tobacco to a person under the age of 18.
The business that owns the store, General Store LTD, faced the same charge, although nobody from the company attended.
Harjit Ryatt, prosecuting, said, “Trading Standards had received a number of complaints from police regarding the sale of tobacco products to minors, as well as the sale of illicit tobacco products.”
He said an inspection of the store on March 8 found “illicit products” on display behind the counter. These were all seized. The test purchase happened a few weeks later when the 15-year-old boy asked for the 20 pack.
Ryatt said, “He was sold that packet for £5, and wasn’t challenged as to his age. He wasn’t asked for proof of ID.”
Tirnakova, 40 of Holme Top Lane, was interviewed by Trading Standards and admitted being the person behind the counter at the time. She said she was mainly employed to clean and stack shelves. She assumed the boy was about 20, and told investigators she had never been given any formal training.
Tirnakova no longer works at the store.
Then director Kadir Beshafa was interviewed and said the company employed around six people, although he could not provide details of these employees, or provide detail that any of them had received training.
The cost to Trading Standards of investigating and prosecuting the case was £2,400. Magistrates said the business should bare the brunt of the costs. They fined Tirnakova £120 and ordered her to pay £200 towards those costs. The business was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £2,200 towards the costs.
After the case David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Services Team said, “The flagrant sale of cigarettes to children should not be happening within our communities. We wrote to this business to make them aware of complaints we had received, and informed them a test purchase may follow. The health risks associated with tobacco are considerable, and shops need to ensure they have systems in place to avoid selling tobacco to minors.
“Trading Standards will continue to investigate allegations and make test purchases to reduce the prevalence of this issue. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”
Councillor Sue Duffy, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said “It is clearly irresponsible not to check the age of teenage customers wanting to purchase age restricted goods. Test purchases are undertaken regularly by Trading Standards staff to ensure shops adhere to the law on tobacco, e-cigarette and alcohol sales. The simple task of asking for identification and verifying the age of younger customers will help to reduce underage tobacco use.”