Acting on intelligence from concerned parents, schools and members of the public, officers from Westmorland and Furness Council visited seven premises and found six retailers refusing to sell E-cigarettes, commonly known as ‘vapes’, to the underage test buyer.
Strict laws on nicotine vapor products are in place to prevent young people from buying them. It is a criminal offense to sell them to persons under the age of 18 or to buy them on behalf of a person under the age of 18.
Businesses who break these rules face prosecution and a possible fine of up to £2,500.
Vaping is recognized as an important tool for smoking cessation; however, there are still concerns about the illegal sale of vaping products to all minors.
Disposable vapes appeal to young people because of their taste and bright colours, along with prices between £4 and £8. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and young people who use these may be encouraged to take up smoking in the future.
The latest data from the ASH-Youth 2022 survey of 11- to 18-year-olds in England shows that:
Current vaping prevalence (including occasional and regular vaping) was nearly 9% in 2022, compared to 4% in 2021 and just under 5% in 2020.
The use of disposable vaping products has increased significantly with 52% of current vapers using them in 2022, compared to almost 8% in 2021 and 5% in 2020. Trading standards have also seen a steep rise in harmful, non-compliant products for sale in shops and strongly supports the government’s proposal to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s. This includes preventing advertisers from 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 biggest problem is young people who don’t already smoke start vaping. This can lead to them potentially form a habit.which can be massively detrimental to their health.The other concern is the high level of nicotine that can be released by vaping devices.
“Thankfully, most businesses comply with the law and we are very grateful to them for helping us protect our young people from picking up this harmful habit. Unfortunately, there are always a small number who break the law and we will not hesitate to to prosecute anyone found to be selling vaping products to anyone under the age of 18.”
Cllr Neil Hughes, cabinet member for transport and environmental services, said: “Our trading standards will now advise the retailer who failed the test purchase to ensure they do not sell any further products containing nicotine to under 18s. If the trader fails to take the advice on board, they may be subject to enforcement.
“Further trading standards test buying operations will be carried out in the coming months and we will do everything we can to keep these products out of the hands of young people in Westmorland and Furness.”
To report the sale of vaping products to minors, 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.