More than half of e-cigarette retailers in Wokingham Borough, Bracknell and Newbury tested in an undercover survey were found breaking the law by selling vaping liquid to an underage teenager.
The survey, which involved nine e-cigarette retailers, was carried out by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) which delivers trading standards, environmental health and licensing services across Wokingham Borough, Bracknell Forest, and West Berkshire.
Current regulations prohibit the sale of nicotine inhaling products to under 18s, except under certain medical circumstances. Outlets found breaking these rules risk being prosecuted, and a possible maximum £2,500 fine.
Of the nine premises surveyed, five sold to the underage teenager. Trading standards will now continue working with retailers to make sure they are fully aware of the law, and their legal obligations, before undertaking further unannounced checks and potential formal action.
“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,” said John Nash, PPP trading standards manager.
“We undertook this snapshot operation concentrating on traders that don’t sell alcohol and cigarettes as we suspected there could be issues.
“These figures are at odds with failure rates for other age-restricted products tested by the PPP. Since April, the failure rate for alcohol and cigarette test purchases has been 6% (two sales in 43 attempts), compared to the 56% (five out of nine) failure rate for those vaping premises surveyed.”
Cllr Iain McCracken, chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said: “Health promotion with young people in respect to tobacco and alcohol products is a priority for the PPP. Research by Public Health England (PHE) shows 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.”
If you live in Wokingham Borough, Bracknell Forest, or West Berkshire and have concerns about this type of activity, or any other trading standards or public protection matter, please contact the service on (01635) 519930 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.