Officers catch shops in the act selling illicit vapes to 15-year-old

People, Health and Care
10:17, Friday, 23rd February 2024

In a hard-hitting clampdown on the selling of vapes to children, North Lincolnshire Trading Standards enforcement officers have targeted stores across the region with an underage ‘mystery shopper’.

In the latest operation they used a 15-year-old volunteer who visited 10 premises and tried to buy e-cigarettes – also known as vapes.

The stores were chosen following intelligence and tip-offs from members of the public.

Of the 10 attempts, three were successful, and in all three the vapes sold were also illegal in the UK – meaning they did not comply with UK safety legislation.

Enforcement action is now being taken against the premises.

Letters will also be sent to the businesses that did not sell to the 15-year-old, praising them for their diligence.

Cllr John Davison, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “My thanks go to Trading Standards officers, and the young volunteer, who are leading the clampdown on illicit vapes, and the unacceptable sale of vapes to children.

“These illicit vapes can cause serious health issues and the fact they are being sold to youngsters is even more concerning.

“While vaping can be a useful way for smokers to quit, it is important that non-smokers are not encouraged to start.

“There has been a worrying rise in the number of children using vapes, and we are determined to come down hard on unscrupulous traders. Our children must be protected.”

Since 2022, Trading Standards have seized around 320,000 illicit vapes worth £2.5m and carried out four underage test purchase operations.

Tens of thousands of illicit vapes are regularly intercepted at Killingholme port, but thousands more are seized from shops, including 484 last month alone.

Trading Standards have written hundreds of advisory and warning letters to premises reminding them of their legal obligations around vapes.

The penalties for selling vapes to under 18s can be a fine of up to £2,500 per offence. For the sale or possession of illicit vapes, the penalty can be an unlimited fine and/or up to two years imprisonment per offence.

If anyone wants to report the sale of vapes to under-18s or the sale of non-compliant vapes, please email trading.standards@northlincs.gov.uk or telephone 01724 297664.