Shopkeepers caught in Tower Hamlets Trading Standards tobacco sting

Tobacconists are being warned against selling smokeless and chewing tobacco to youngsters after an undercover 15-year-old was able to buy the products in every shop he visited during a sting operation.

Tower Hamlets Council’s trading standards team sent the mystery shopper to 12 shops – and he bought the products unchallenged in each of them.

Smokeless tobacco products such as Paan Masala and Ghutka are popular within the Bangladeshi and Asian communities, but carry health risks such as mouth and throat cancer.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “These results of the test purchases are worrying as they indicate that smokeless tobacco is available, without challenge, to young people and that the sellers are either unaware of the law or choose to ignore it.”

Shopkeepers who sell the products to under-18s are warned they could face a criminal record and a fine of up to £2,500.

Trading Standards chiefs have vowed to continue their clampdown on tobacco products being sold to underage customers in the East End.

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