Retailers fined after selling vapes to under 18s

Published: Wednesday 6 September 2023

This image shows a young person using a single use vape

Trading Standards officers in South Lanarkshire have found that nearly one in three retailers will sell vapes to under 18s.

The worrying figure was the result of a recent test purchasing exercise carried out in 70 retail premises across the council area. And it comes in a week when the Scottish Government agreed to a consultation on the possible ban of disposable vapes, as called for by the council earlier this year.

In June and July test purchase operations were undertaken at 70 premises using volunteers under the age of 18. Trading Standards enforcement officers worked with the young volunteers in tightly controlled test purchase situations to check that the retailers asked for proof of age where appropriate and, if this was not produced, then refused to sell.

In 21 of the 70 visits, the vapes were sold, and each retailer was subsequently served with a fixed penalty fine.

George Currie, Divisional Trading Standards Officer, said: “These are significantly worse results than expected and may in large part be caused by the child appealing nature of (in particular single use) vapes, and their wide availability across a range of retailers.

“Nonetheless, vapes are covered by the same trading laws as tobacco or alcohol and can’t be sold to anyone under the age of 18, and after such concerning results we will be stepping up efforts to support sellers with advice and continue to take enforcement action where they break the law.” 

“Ultimately, as well as a ban on the sale of single use vapes, we would like to see the same display rules applied to vapes as tobacco, that is, they are kept out of sight and not promoted in any way.”

David Booth, Executive Director of Community and Enterprise Resources, added: “While vapes can be a useful cessation aid for smokers, they were not intended to be the lifestyle product for children and young people, they have undoubtedly now become.

“Unfortunately, the bright packaging, colours and flavours, as well as the easy availability of single use vapes in particular, has only worsened that trend. Worse still is that the children and often their parents mistakenly believe that vapes are a harmless alternative to smoking."