Rogue business owners who sell vapes to underage children have been warned that they will be brought to justice after two people were fined following undercover trading standards operations.

Scarborough magistrates heard that a 15-year-old was used as a test purchaser under supervision of council officers at two locations in the town last year.

The teenager was sold vapes on both occasions, including one that contained almost twice the legal amount of nicotine-containing liquid.

Dean Anthony Mitchell, the owner of Save a Lot, Castle Road, Scarborough, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

While in a separate case, Marta Monika Olejarcz, manager of Marta’s European Food, of Victoria Street, Scarborough, pleaded guilty to selling a vape to a person under 18, contrary to the Children and Families Act 2014.

Both cases were heard by magistrates on Tuesday (June 11). The court was told that on November 11 the volunteer was sold an illegal vape by Mitchell.

The grape flavoured vape contained 9,000 puffs and 18 millilitres of nicotine-containing liquid. The maximum quantity of nicotine-containing liquid allowed by law is two millilitres, approximately the same amount as in a standard packet of cigarettes.

Officers returned to the shop 10 days later and seized 230 illegal vapes, 214 of which contained more than the permitted amount of nicotine-containing liquid. Some were found to contain 20 millilitres or 10 times the permitted amount.

A further 16 vapes were not marked with information required by law, including the name of the producer and the amount of nicotine in each puff. A test purchase was also made on November 11 at Marta’s European Food. In that case, while the volunteer was sold a legal vape, it should only have been available to over-18s.

Mitchell was ordered to pay a total of £769, including fines, a court surcharge and prosecution costs, while Olejarcz, must pay a total of £361. The court reduced the size of the fines in recognition of early guilty pleas and on hearing of the defendants’ financial situations.

Magistrates said Mitchell’s offences were aggravated by the fact he continued to sell the products even after being visited by trading standards officers.

North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director for environment, Karl Battersby, said: “These cases follow a successful prosecution in Skipton last week and show our determination in cracking down on offences like this.

“We are pleased the court recognised the harm that can be caused by the availability of vapes to young people, especially when they contain such huge amounts of nicotine.

“There are very simple steps a retailer should have in place to ensure they do not sell age-restricted products to a young person. No such precautions were followed in these cases and, in one, the sale was made far worse by the fact that the vape was illegal. “The regulations set strict limits for the amount of liquid in these devices in order to limit the risks associated with nicotine, a toxic substance harmful to health. It is hugely concerning that some of the vapes contained 10 times the amount of nicotine found in a packet of cigarettes.” The public can report a retailer suspected of selling illegal vapes or selling vapes to under-18s via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.