By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter
Illegal cigarettes or vapes were sold during four out of every five Trading Standards test purchases that took place in Bradford businesses last year.
A new report looking into the work carried out by Trading Standards reveals 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.
Members will be told that Trading Standards has also carried out education sessions in schools, community centres and places of worship to warn people about the dangers of illegal tobacco.
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.
In the UK shops are not allowed to sell vapes that contain more than 2ml of liquid, which allows for roughly 500/600 puffs.
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.
A Trading Standards test purchase was carried out at Phones & Vapes on Beckside Road, Lidget Green, on April 6.
The underage test purchaser asked for an eLux ENE Lemon Peach Passionfruit e cigarette, and was sold the item by a members of staff.
Badir Munir Shah – who ran the store at the time, appeared in court in November charged with the sale of ecigs to a person under the age of 18 and supplying ecigs that did not comply with product requirements.
Shah, 45, of First Street, pleaded guilty, although he told the court he did not realise the item that was sold was illegal.
He was fined £400 and ordered to pay £1,028 in costs to Trading Standards and a £160 surcharge.
The update on the work of Trading Standards will be part of an annual report by West Yorkshire Joint Services that will be given to members of Bradford Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.
The report says: “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.
“Local media coverage highlighted these decisions, notably the revocation of the licence of Jimmy’s Off Licence, Great Horton Road.”
The report adds: “The work of the team has also resulted in seizures of counterfeit clothing, non-duty paid alcohol and nitrous oxide.”
Referring to the work being done to educate people of the dangers of illegal tobacco, the report says: “Officers deliver education sessions to community groups, schools, colleges and front-line professionals.
“During 2023, 15 presentations have been delivered in the Bradford District to an audience of 1,595 members of the public and 137 professionals including schools, community faith groups, youth groups, public health, police, housing and youth workers.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)