A Middlesbrough retailer that was discovered to be selling thousands of pounds worth of illegal vapes has been ordered to close its doors for three months by magistrates.

Johns News, located on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough, was handed a three-month closure order in Teesside Magistrates Court on June 6.

Council trading standards officers visited the store on April 21 following complaints that vapes were being sold to underage people; with their search of the property discovering a hoard of 1,285 illegal vapes hidden in cupboards and crisp boxes.

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All the vapes were then discovered to contain illegally high quantities of nicotine, with some misleadingly labelled to contain between four and ten thousand puffs.

Imposing the order was District Judge Marie Mallon who subsequently fined the stores operator Harpreet Singh £1,500 to be paid to the council.

Following the closure, Head of Public Protection at Middlesbrough Council Judith Hedgley has warned retailers that the sale of nicotine products must meet strict standards.

“All tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vape products must comply with stringent tobacco control laws, including a limit on nicotine content and tank size, as well as complying with packaging and labelling requirements.

“Devices offering more than approximately 650 puffs are generally illegal - the vast majority of those found at John’s News were labelled as offering between 4,000 and 10,000 puffs. A 3,500-puff vape is the same as smoking around 280 cigarettes.”

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Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke, Executive member for Public Protection, has expressed deep concern regarding the use of vapes in young children.

He said: “E-cigarettes, or nicotine-containing vapes, can and do help smokers to quit so swapping from smoking to vaping is a positive health move.

“However the recreational use of nicotine vapes, especially by young people, is becoming a real concern.

“Selling non-compliant vapes and selling vapes containing nicotine to young people is illegal, immoral and totally unacceptable.”