A shop in Taunton which sold vapes, illegal tobacco products and other drug paraphernalia, including cannabis grinders and bongs, to children has been ordered to close following a court hearing.
A closure order was served at the Quick Stop Mini Market in High Street, on the evening of Monday 12 December, following a seizure of more than 13,000 illegal cigarettes and 119 pouches of 50g rolling tobacco, as well as a large amount of illegal vapes. This was the fourth seizure at the property this year.
Following the initial order, a court hearing was held at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (14 November), and a three-month closure order was granted.
The application for the order was applied for jointly by Avon and Somerset Police and the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service.
Incidents recorded against the store included:
- Selling illegal vapes and tobacco products – a mixture of counterfeit and Non-UK Duty Paid variants.
- Selling vapes and drug paraphernalia to children
- Issues of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the store committed by people purchasing goods there
- High carbon monoxide readings recorded through an assessment by local officers and the fire and rescue service, resulting in the business and private residential addresses above being evacuated
- Incidents of electricity being abstracted, impacting on surrounding local businesses
Cerwyn Pritchard, Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinator, said: “This joint investigation gathered evidence of some very concerning breaches and incidents at this premises, resulting in a closure order being granted by the court.
“Many of the incidents were causing distress to local residents and having a negative impact on surrounding businesses. We couldn’t allow this to continue, resulting in decisive action being taken.
“We hope the closure order will improve the quality of life of those living and working in the area and want to thank those who provided us with evidence and statements to support the closure application.”
Sharon Anderson, Group Manager Intelligence & Investigations, Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in vaping as an alternative to cigarettes over the last few years. Originally for those attempting to give up smoking, the bright colours and sweet flavours are now worryingly attracting younger audiences and so it is essential store owners remain vigilant when selling these products.
“Illegal vapes, such as those seized during these visits, have an additional public health risk. They often have excessively high levels of nicotine, over the limits set by law and will not have been authorised by MHRA. This makes them highly addictive and potentially harmful to a person’s health.”
“We will continue to work in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police to carry out test purchases on a regular basis.”