Johns News illicit vapes

John’s News in Middlesbrough has been ordered to remain closed for a second three-month period after illicit vapes were found hidden in the shop earlier this year.

Back in April, Middlesbrough Council Trading Standards Officers paid the store a visit following complaints of underage vape sales and uncovered a stash of illicit vapes with a street value of more than £15,000 hidden in crisp boxes, inside a bin, under cardboard and inside a bed frame.  

The store was forced to close for three months in June under antisocial behaviour laws and must now remain shut for a further three-month spell.

An application to Teesside Magistrates Court by Middlesbrough Council on Tuesday, September 5 flagged up that the criminal behaviour was likely to continue as the owner would simply be moving back into the shop and there were no changes by the landlord regarding tenancy.   

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s head of public protection, said: “Crime and antisocial behaviour laws give the council powers to deal decisively with retailers who engage in criminal activities or cause nuisance to the local community.

“A closure order requires a premises that has been found to be used for such activities to close and remain closed for three months.

“As seen in this case, that order can be  extended by a court for a further three months if there is likely to be a repeat of the same or similar unlawful activities.”

Middlesbrough mayor Chris Cooke, the council’s executive member for public protection, 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, but such products must comply with relevant laws.

“Retailers who choose to sell illicit vapes will be subject to robust enforcement and the Council will use its powers to detect and prevent outlets being used in this illegal trade.”

If retailers know of a store that is selling illicit tobacco or vapes, they should report them by calling Trading Standards through the Citizen Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.