"Bring your mates, cheapest vapes in town!": Takeaway boss hid dodgy illegal vapes in pizza boxes

Zaishan Jahangir hid illegal vapes in pizza boxes behind the counter of his takeaway
Zaishan Jahangir hid illegal vapes in pizza boxes behind the counter of his takeaway -Credit:No credit

A takeaway owner who hid illegal vapes in pizza boxes and flogged one to a 13-year-old boy told him: "Bring your mates, they are the cheapest around."

Zaishan Jahangir, 32, was the owner of Mr Zee's in Chapel Street, Chorley, when he was caught selling the counterfeit e-cigarettes. On April 18, 2023, two officers from Lancashire Trading Standards visited the shop and discovered 33 unlawful vapes, hidden in pizza boxes behind the counter.

The devices were '4,000 puff' vapes with a 10ml capacity, with the legal limit 2mg or 600 puffs. A number of other legal devices were displayed on the counter, however the higher volume vapes were concealed, Lancs Live reports.

READ MORE Warning over young children being sold vapes laced with 'unknown substances'

The following day, Jahangir spoke to Trading Standards officials who advised him the devices were unlawful and warned against selling any electronic cigarette to anyone under 18. Jahangir promised to operate a 'Think 25' policy, saying he would ask for ID from anyone who appeared under that age.

But on May 17, a 13-year-old boy went to the shop, fitted with a covert camera. In a recording shown to the court it was clear the school boy was not fully grown, as the chest height camera barely reached the camera.

But when the youngster asked Jahangir to sell him a vape, the proprietor asked what capacity device he wanted, before saying: "Tell your mates to buy them from here. Cheapest around."

The illegal vapes were stashed in pizza boxes behind the counter at Mr Zees
The illegal vapes were stashed in pizza boxes behind the counter at Mr Zees -Credit:Trading Standards

Trading Standards officers then entered the shop and identified themselves. They found another 14 illegal devices hidden behind the counter - despite the warnings Jahangir had been given the month before.

As officers continued their investigations, they discovered the takeaway owner had also advertised vapes for sale on the Mr Zees Facebook page. Advertising any cigarette or vaping product on social media is illegal, Mr Traynor told the court.

In July 2023, Chorley Council issued a closure notice to Mr Zees over concerns of antisocial behaviour relating to the sale of vapes and fireworks to children. The shop was closed for three months, but the ban was later extended to six months.

Jahangir pleaded guilty to four offences under the Trading Standards Act relating to the sale of vapes which breach the regulations, sale of a vape to a child and advertising vapes for sale.

At the time of the offences he was also subject to a suspended sentence imposed for dangerous driving in May 2022.

Thomas Worsfold, defending, said his client had been struggling financially when he took on Mr Zee's in November 2022. He said he was not aware the large capacity vapes were illegal - however he continued to sell them after receiving advice from Trading Standards.

Sentencing, Recorder Daniel Lister said: "I regard this as serious, and the reason I regard it as serious is that vapes are addictive to young people because of the way they are marketed and flavoured. That is not your fault - I am not going to punish you for an industry's behaviour, but you knew you weren't supposed to sell vapes to under 18s and you did anyway."

"At the forefront of your mind should have been that you knew you were committing a criminal offence in breach of a suspended sentence."

He sentenced Jahangir to eight months for each offence of selling illegal capacity vapes and advertising vapes online, with a £100 fine for selling vapes to a child. However he said given the current capacity of prisons, he could suspend the sentence for 18 months and add 150 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity requirements.

The judge also fined Jahangir £150 for breaching his suspended sentence and banned him from possessing more than three vapes at any given time.