Stamping out illegal sales of vapes to under 18s
Flintshire County Council is warning retailers of vape products that it is illegal to sell vapes to under 18s and that they should only be selling legal products to customers over 18.
Vapes, e-cigarettes and their refill containers are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and must comply with tank capacity and nicotine strength limits, while their labels must display manufacturer details and health warnings. Failure to ensure compliance with these requirements could result in prosecution.
Trading Standards officers have seen a surge in illicit sales of vaping over the past year, with thousands of pounds worth of illegal vapes seized by officers in recent months across Flintshire.
Many of the devices seized flouted the rules. There were also concerns that some single use products may be designed specifically to appeal to children and young people, with packaging and flavours imitating popular confectionery brands such as Skittles and prices ranging between £4 and £8 being viewed as pocket money prices.
Trading Standards teams across England and Wales have reported a significant rise in reports of underage vape sales during 2022 and early 2023. These incidents mainly involve sales of disposable e-cigarettes, known as vapes to Children.
We use intelligence gathered from concerned parents, schools and members of the public to identify retailers who it is alleged have sold age restricted items to children under 18. We regularly carry out test purchasing operations, supported by young volunteers, to test retailers to ensure that they are keeping within the law and protecting children from harm. Recent activity has resulted in two retailers making sales to children and these matters are currently under investigation. This could result in the retailer or owner being fined up to £2,500.
Flintshire’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Public Health and Public Protection, Councillor Chris Bithell, said:
“While we recognise that vaping can be a useful quitting aid for smokers, we are worried about increasing breaches of the law, with many non-compliant devices being sold on Flintshire’s high streets. Our Trading Standards officers are doing vital work by cracking down on illegal products and the unscrupulous retailers who are selling these products to young people without the legally required age verification checks. It is important that vaping products comply with rules that were established to safeguard public health and that they do not end up in the hands of children.
“With a lot of the work that our officers do on age-restricted products including tobacco and cigarettes, fireworks and traditional vapes, they’re looking at sales to 16- and 17-year-olds. Currently we are getting good information that these cheap, disposable vape products are being sold to much younger children or certainly finding their way into the hands of 12 and 13 year olds. Protecting the health, safety and well-being of our communities is a high priority to us and protecting our young and vulnerable is at the heart of this.”
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 Welsh language 0808 223 1144. Or contact Flintshire Trading Standards by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.