Bradford Shop Sells Cigarettes to 15 Year Old

Thursday 8 February

On 8th February 2024, 24hr General Market Ltd, Bradford and Maria Tirnakova of Bradford appeared at Bradford Magistrates Court to answer the charge of selling cigarettes to a 15 year old child. A representative of 24hr General Market Ltd failed to attend the court and the case was heard in their absence. The Magistrates found the company guilty of the offence under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and issued a fine of £1000, victim surcharge of £400 and costs of £2200 totalling £3600 for the company. The seller, Maria Tirnakova pleaded guilty to the offence under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. The Magistrates gave credit to Maria Tirnakova for entering an early guilty plea and also for the fact that she was not employed by the 24hr General Market Ltd as a shop assistant but as a cleaner and consequently had not received any training in relation to age restricted products and underage sales. Maria Tirnakova was issued with a fine of £120, victim surcharge of £48 and costs of £200, totalling £368.


The case was launched after West Yorkshire Trading Standards received a complaint from West Yorkshire Police regarding the premises selling tobacco to children under the age of 18.


In April 2023, a 15 year old volunteer entered the shop, under the supervision of a Trading Standards Officer, and asked to buy a packet of cigarettes. The seller sold a packet of Richmond Kingsize cigarettes to the volunteer for £5, without asking for identification or challenging his age. It is an offence to sell tobacco to person under the age of 18. Both a representative for 24hr General Market Ltd and Maria Tirnakova were interviewed at a later date where both parties acknowledged that the sale happened but neither party would accept full responsibility.


David Strover, Trading Standards Manager  -  Business Services Team said, “the flagrant sale of cigarettes to children should not be happening within our communities. We wrote to this business to make them aware of complaints we had received, and informed them a test purchase may follow. The health risks associated with tobacco are considerable,  and shops need to ensure they have systems in place to avoid selling tobacco to minors.  Trading Standards will continue to investigate allegations and make test purchases to reduce the prevalence of this issue.  I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”


Councillor Sue Duffy, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said “it is clearly irresponsible not to check the age of teenage customers wanting to purchase age restricted goods. Test purchases are undertaken regularly by Trading Standards staff to ensure shops adhere to the law on tobacco, e-cigarette and alcohol sales. The simple task of asking for identification and verifying the age of younger customers will help to reduce underage tobacco use.”


Consumers wishing to report illegal trading practices, including the sale of age restricted goods to children can call  the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline  on 0808 223 1133 to report their concerns  -  this can be done anonymously.