West Berkshire Council

Local Vape Stores caught selling to underage shoppers

A test purchasing operation of nine local e-cigarette retailers has resulted in under age sales

2018 STOCK SHOT Young man using Vape e-cigarette

Issued on: 26 September 2018

The operation, carried out by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP), which delivers Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing services across Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham saw over 50% of local e-cigarette retailers in the survey of nine break the law by selling vaping liquids to an underage teenager.

Current regulations prohibit the sale of nicotine inhaling products to under-18s, except under certain medical circumstances. Outlets found to be breaking the rules risk being prosecuted leading to a maximum fine of £2,500.

John Nash, PPP Trading Standards Manager said:

"These results are concerning and have re-emphasised to us that a lot of the premises currently selling vaping products don't fully understand the law. We undertook this snapshot operation concentrating on traders that don't sell alcohol and cigarettes as we suspected there could be issues. We will now work with retailers to ensure systems are more robust."

He went on to say: "These figures are at odds with failure rates for other age-restricted products tested by the PPP. Since April this year the failure rate for alcohol and cigarette test purchases has been 6% (2 sales in 43 attempts), compared to the 56% (5 out of 9) failure rate for the vaping premises surveyed."

Cllr Iain McCracken, Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, added:

"Health promotion with young people in respect to tobacco and alcohol products is a priority for the PPP.

"Research by Public Health England (PHE) indicates that vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year.  However the law states children should not use them and the view of PHE is that the law should be strongly enforced in respect of cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

"Any residents of Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire or Wokingham councils that have concerns about activity of this nature, or any other trading standards or public protection matter, should contact the service on 01635 519930 or e-mail tsadvice@westberks.gov.uk."

Trading Standards will be working with retailers to ensure that they are fully aware of the law and their legal obligations before undertaking further unannounced checks and potential formal action.