Thurrock businesses caught selling vapes to underage children

Two Thurrock businesses have had extra conditions imposed on their licences after being caught selling vapes to under age children.

Amid growing fears over the use of the nicotine substitutes by young people, Thurrock trading standards is cracking down on businesses that stock them.

Ockendon International Food Centre, 28-30 Derry Avenue, South Ockendon sold an Elf Bar strawberry ice 600-puff e-cigarette containing 600mg nicotine to a 16-year-old in August. A normal cigarette contains 12mgs of nicotine.

A Thurrock licensing sub committee meeting on Thursday heard the sale was made by a temporary member of staff who has since left the business. It is the second Challenge 25 test sale failure by the business.

The challenge encourages anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to carry acceptable ID.

Licence holder Sadik Alakirik told the committee: “I want to say I apologise for everything but the first time it was due to my experience of this job but we will now be really careful. Every two weeks I warn my staff to the check the IDs all the time.”

A second business, Aveley Food and Wine, 70 High Street, Aveley failed a test purchase of an Elf Bar cherry 600-puff e-cigarette also containing 600 mgs of nicotine. It was sold in August last year to two 16-year-olds.

Robert Jordan, agent for the licence holder, Sivarajah Kannathasan, said he had since given advice to the business.

He said: “I’ve trained all the staff and told them if there is anything there won’t be any second chances. Mr Kannathasan hasn’t made any underage sales personally. There is the review and he’s upset about it and wants to make sure this doesn’t happen ever again.”

Both businesses had conditions applied to their licences.

These include keeping a refusals record shall at the premises that details all refusals to sell age restricted products.

In addition a Challenge 25 policy will be adopted at the premises and all staff will be trained in its operation. Any person who appears to be under the age of 25 years of age will be asked for ID and the sale will be refused if they are unable to provide valid identification.

Written training records will be kept for all staff for the duration of their employment and for six months after they leave.

The businesses were warned they could lose their licences if they fail again.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter