Disposable vapes

One in five Scottish shops ‘willing to sell vapes to under-18s’

SCOTSS says findings of test operation was worse than expected and “very concerning” as disposable vape use grows in Scotland
07 September 2023 , Steve Smethurst

Chartered Trading Standards Institute calls for additional measures to prevent single-use products being sold for “pocket-money prices”

Work by Trading Standards officers in Scotland has found that one in five premises visited sold nicotine vaping products (vapes) to an under-18 volunteer.

The results were described as ‘significantly worse than expected’ by the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) and followed test purchase operations at 312 premises across Scotland with 63 failures for vapes.

A statement from SCOTSS said: “Last year saw a massive surge in popularity of single use or disposable vapes, which are cheap to buy and, in the main, use child-appealing packaging to attract younger users.

“There is also an unfortunate environmental impact as the products are mainly plastic and contain lithium batteries, and are commonly discarded carelessly after use.”

David MacKenzie, Chair of SCOTSS described the results as ‘very concerning’. He said: “We will be stepping up efforts to support sellers with advice and continue to take enforcement action.

“We would like to see the same display rules applied to vapes that is applied to tobacco, i.e. they are kept out of sight in store.”

The UK government announced in May that a loophole that allows the vaping industry to give free samples of vapes to children in England is to be closed. It came as NHS figures for 2021 showed that 9% of 11 to 15 year old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018.

The government also announced that there will be a review into banning the vaping industry selling ‘nicotine-free’ vapes to under 18s.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer said: “There has been a particularly worrying rise in the number of children using vapes, with companies clearly marketing these products at children using colours, flavours and cheap disposable options.”

He went on to describe the ban on free samples as a “very welcome step in tackling some of the harms caused by the vaping industry”.

The government also announced a review into the rules on issuing fines to shops selling vapes to under 18s illegally. This is to consider allowing local Trading Standards to issue on-the-spot fines and fixed penalty notices more easily.

“We would like to see additional measures introduced, such as standardised packaging and an excise tax to prevent these products being sold for pocket-money prices.”

Duncan Stephenson, Policy and External Affairs Director, Chartered Trading Standards Institute commented: “We are very concerned to hear continued reports of sales to under 18s across the UK. Trading Standards continues to take enforcement action against those who ignore the law and we welcome intelligence from partners to support targeted activity.

“We would like to see additional measures introduced, such as standardised packaging and an excise tax to prevent these products being sold for pocket-money prices.”

Jon Foster, Policy Manager at Asthma + Lung UK said that the number of children and young people experimenting with vaping for the first time had ‘doubled in the past year’.

He said that ‘much stronger’ action is needed from the government to prevent under-18s accessing vapes.

“Given that we still know little about long-term effects of e-cigarettes, the growing popularity of vaping among children and young people is worrying. We want to see taxation to increase the price of vapes and a clampdown on marketing, especially online.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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