A corner shop caught selling illegal vapes has been shut down for a month.

The RK News newsagent in Middlesbrough’s town centre was found to be selling vapes branded as nicotine free, when they actually contained the highly-addictive stimulant.

Tests on the vapes carried out by trading standards offices found they actually contained between 17mg and 20mg of nicotine – which in some cases is as much as in a pack of 20 cigarettes.

Read more: Furious residents launch campaign against plans for huge 200-home development

The shop, on Gilkes Street, will be forced to close for the next month and shopkeeper Nirjeet Singh was ordered to pay £941 in costs, Teesside Magistrates Court ruled.

The ‘nicotine free’ vapes were seized after the illegal sales which were made between March and June.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Most illicit vapes that we find appear to be designed and marketed at young people but anyone who buys vapes thinking they are nicotine-free but contain nicotine are at risk of developing a nicotine addiction. 

“Closure Orders are helping us to deal robustly with traders who sell illicit cigarettes and illegal nicotine-containing vapes by removing their ability to sell such products, as well as prohibiting the overall use of shop premises.” 

Mayor Chris Cooke, the Council’s Executive Member for Public Protection, said: “It is alarming that disposable vapes, especially those that claim to be nicotine-free but are in fact nicotine-based, are specifically designed and aimed at a younger market and therefore must be aimed at getting young people hooked on nicotine. 

Read next:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here

“It is also a great concern that some retailers who trade in our town believe it is ok to sell such illegal products and seek to profit at the expense of the health of young people in Middlesbrough. 

“The Council’s Public Protection Service is at the forefront of tackling this illegal trade in Middlesbrough, supported by our Wardens, Neighbourhood Safety Officers and Cleveland Police.

“Steps will continue to be taken to identify and deal with rogue traders, seize illicit products and obtain Closure Orders, as well as prosecuting the worst offenders.”