Officers from Gloucestershire County Council’s trading standards department are disappointed in the number of shops found to have sold disposable e-cigarettes to underage buyers.
Trading standards carried out test purchasing operations, supported by the police cadets, over three days at the start of August 2022 following an increase in reports of underage sales of e-cigarettes, known as vapes.
Officers used intelligence gathered by concerned parents, schools and members of the public to visit retailers who it is alleged had sold items to children under 18.
Volunteers aged 15 and 16 visited 29 shops around the county and were able to buy vapes from six of them in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Dursley and Cirencester.
Trading standards officers will now be revisiting the shops which sold the products to advise them of their responsibilities on age-related products. They will continue working with them to ensure they are fully aware of the law and their legal obligations, before undertaking further unannounced checks in the coming months.
If it is found on a subsequent visit that the retailer is still selling to under-18s then more formal action may be taken, which could include the retailers or owners of the shop being taken to court where they could face a fine of up to £2,500.
Disposable vapes are appealing to under-18s due to their flavours and bright colours, along with prices between £4 and £8. E-cigarettes contain nicotine which is highly addictive and young people who use these them may be encouraged to take up smoking in the future.
Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member for trading standards, said: “The results of this survey have been disappointing. While it is good to see that the majority of retailers are acting responsibly there seems to be a small number who continue to flout the law.
“Our trading standards officers will now be advising these retailers to ensure they do not sell any products containing nicotine to under-18s and they could be taken to court if they continue to do so.”
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 contact Gloucestershire Trading Standards by email at firstname.lastname@example.org