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Trading standards warn retailers over underage vape sales

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Trading standards officers from Gloucestershire County Council are disappointed in the number of shops found to have sold vapes to underage buyers.

Trading standards carried out test purchase operations, supported by the police cadets, in the last week of May 2024. The volunteers went to 21 stores in total, in Stroud, Gloucester, Cheltenham, the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds. 

They were sold a nicotine vape from four different shops and no one questioned their age or asked for identification.

The retailers that did not sell to the underage volunteers had received advice in the past about sales to under-18s and the majority asked for ID from the volunteer.

In total there were five sales of vapes to the volunteers, meaning that 76 per cent passed and 24 per cent failed.

In 2022, 80 per cent passed and in 2023 there was a 100 per cent pass rate.

Trading standards will write to the shops that failed within the next week advising them that a sale took place and reminding them of their legal responsibilities. A further survey will take place later in the year and if they fail again they could face prosecution.

Jason Poole, acting head of trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We recognise that the rise in vaping is a real worry for parents and guardians which is why we carry out these test purchase operations.

“We will provide additional guidance to shops to ensure they do not sell to anyone underage. Although only four retailers sold to someone under 18, one is too many. If they are found selling again in the follow-up operation they may find themselves subject to an investigation which could lead to prosecution.”

To report underage sales of vaping products, you can email tradingstandards@gloucestershire.gov.uk, visit the website https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/trading-standards/ or report anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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