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Background

“Vape” retailers selling to under 18s

Written by on 19/01/2024

A test purchase operation in Barrow and Ulverston resulted in two out of five retailers selling e-cigarettes commonly known as “vapes” to the underage test purchaser.

Westmorland and Furness Council’s Trading Standards service carried out the operation, last week, after receiving several complaints from concerned parents, schools, and members of the public.

It is a criminal offence to sell nicotine vaping products to persons under the age of 18 years, or purchase them on behalf of under 18’s. Traders found breaking these rules risk being prosecuted, and a possible maximum £2,500 fine.

The latest data from the ASH-Youth 2022 survey of 11- to 18-year-olds in England show that:

Current vaping prevalence (including occasional and regular vaping) was almost 9% in 2022, compared with 4% in 2021 and just under 5% per cent in 2020.

The use of disposable vaping products has increased substantially with 52% of current vapers using them in 2022, compared with almost 8% per cent in 2021 and 5% per cent in 2020.

Trading Standards have also seen a steep increase in harmful, non-compliant products on sale in shops and strongly support government proposals to crack down on the sales of e-cigarettes to under 18s. This includes preventing advertisers targeting children and not allowing retailers to give free samples of vapes to children.

Cllr Patricia Bell, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Care, said: “Vaping can be very damaging to young people’s health. The major issue is young people who do not already smoke taking up vaping. This can lead to them potentially forming a habit that could be damaging to their health. The other concern is the high level of nicotine that can be delivered by vaping devices.

“Thankfully, most businesses comply with the law and we’re very grateful to them for helping us protect our young people from taking up this harmful habit. Sadly there are always a small number who break the law and we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone found selling vaping products to anyone under the age of 18.”

Cllr Neil Hughes, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environmental Services, said: “Our trading standards officers will now be advising the retailers who failed the test purchase to ensure they do not sell any further products containing nicotine to under-18s. If the traders fail to take on board the advice, they could face enforcement action.

“Further trading standards test purchasing operations will be carried out in the coming months and we’ll do everything we can to keep these products out of the hands of young people in Westmorland and Furness.”

To report underage sales of vaping products, or if you are a retailer seeking clarification of the law, contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk.