Over 1,400 illegal vapes, and illicit tobacco products were seized in a single day of operations by West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards officers.
The seizures occurred as two new West Sussex Public Health-funded enforcement officers took up their roles, focusing on the sale of illegal vapes and illicit tobacco. In the officers’ first operation, they ‘filled a car’ with illegal vapes and tobacco from just three shops in Littlehampton and Bognor.
These new officers are also supporting the work of the team to tackle the increasing sales of vapes to children by rogue businesses.
“The council is determined to continue its crackdown on the illegal sale of vapes, and other age restricted products being sold to children across the county. Working in conjunction with alcohol licencing authorities, Trading Standards will seek a review of any business’s alcohol licence if we catch them selling age-restricted products to children,” Cllr Duncan Crow, cabinet member for community support, fire and rescue, said.
“Businesses should think very carefully about putting their licence at risk by selling illegal vapes and other restricted products to children for a short-term financial gain. Losing your alcohol licence can have a significant and devastating financial impact on any business and it is just not worth it.”
Since January 2022, there have been more than 15 alcohol licence reviews following reports to Trading Standards in West Sussex, resulting in varied outcomes from total revocation to suspensions or additional licensing conditions.
A recent case in Worthing resulted in the revocation of a shop’s licence after the sale of alcohol to children, coupled with the seizure of illegal vapes. Trading Standards say that any businesses found to be breaking the rules will be subject to enforcement action including prosecution and any illegal stock will be seized and forfeited.