A Darlington store has been closed for three months for selling illegal vapes and reports of selling tobacco products to children.

Magic Vape, on Tubwell Row in the town centre, was under investigation following several complaints from members of the public about the sale of illegal vapes to children from the premises.

Several inspections were carried out, as part of joint operations by Darlington Trading Standards and Durham Police, and illegal, over-strength vapes were seized.

A test purchase was also made following the seizures, and an officer could still be sold the illegal product.

The products purchased and seized from the premises did not comply with the UK regulations for vapes, well exceeding the legal tank capacity of 2ml, which equates to around 600 puffs.

The Northern Echo: Magic VapeMagic Vape (Image: DARLINGTON BOROUGH COUNCIL)

Some of the vapes seized from the premises contained as many as 9,000 puffs, according to enforcement teams.

An application for the premises closure order was heard at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (23 April).

Magistrates granted the closure order against the premises after hearing evidence in connection to the criminal activity and nuisance.

The court also heard how staff members in the store were obstructive to officers during inspections of the store.

The magistrates deemed the order was necessary to prevent further criminal behaviour.

Magic Vape was ordered to be closed for a period of three months. The premises are to remain closed until midnight on July 22, 2024.

Leah Ball, fair trading and financial investigations officer for Darlington Borough Council said: “The safety of our community is paramount, and our trading standards team will continue to use every available tool to stop traders supplying illegal vapes, especially to children. Our zero-tolerance approach is clear - businesses who flout the law will face consequences.”

The action follows extensive investigation work and intelligence gathering under Operation Nightstar into the supply of illicit and over-strength goods in Darlington, and the sale of vapes to children. Criminal offences are under investigation into the illegal supply of vapes from premises within the town.

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Neighbourhood Inspector Matt Plumb, from Durham Constabulary, added: “Illicit and dangerous tobacco and vapes can not only cause serious harm to people’s health but the proceeds are often invested into organised crime and can help fund more serious and violent offences.

“Supplying these products to underage children can also open them up to potential exploitation and criminality – if you are doing this, then you can expect a visit from us.

“We know that our communities will not tolerate the antisocial behaviour and criminality that these activities bring. If you have any information regarding potential criminality in your community then please report it to us - we will always act on intelligence submitted to us, as this closure order has shown.”