Shops investigated after selling cider and vapes to underage teenagers during operation in South Tyneside

Two South Tyneside retailers are being investigated after a ‘test purchase’ operation to check on underage sales.

Stock image from Pixabay.
Stock image from Pixabay.

Trading standards officers from South Tyneside Council used 16-year-old volunteers to check that local shops were not selling alcohol and e-cigarettes to underage buyers.

As part of the operation, they visited nine retail stores in the borough which had been identified using information from members of the public about the potential sales of age-restricted products to minors.

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Two of the shops failed, selling a disposable vape bar and four cans of cider to two of the volunteers.

Neither retailer asked for photographic proof of age identification, an essential measure to prevent sales to under 18s.

Cllr Jim Foreman, Lead Member for Housing and Community Safety, said: “Most businesses are very responsible and compliant with the regulations, and our trading standards officers do a great deal of work educating retailers to ensure they do not supply age restricted products to underage children.

“However, this operation allowed us to identify shops and retailers who require further investigation to ensure there are no recurrences, to highlight their responsibilities, and consider a proportionate course of action."

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It is illegal to sell ‘vapes’ or alcohol to anyone under the age of 18. Businesses can be prosecuted and fined for doing so and their licence to sell alcohol could also be at risk.

The Challenge 25 scheme enables a business to request identification from anyone they believe to be aged 25 years or under and request valid proof of age.

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Anyone who believes they may have information on the sale of illicit tobacco can report it anonymously through the Keep it out hotline: 0300 999 0000 or online at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/anonymous-reporting/ .