Officers from Highland Council Trading Standards are urging retailers to ensure that they only buy vaping products from reputable UK suppliers and wholesalers following the seizure of more than 3,000 illegal vapes from shops in the region over the past 12 months.
A recent surge in the popularity of vapes and e-cigarettes, especially among young people, has been accompanied by a spate of non-compliant and potentially dangerous products hitting the market.
According to David MacKenzie, The Highland Council’s Trading Standards Manager and CTSI Lead Officer for e-commerce, “The explosion in the sale of vapes recently has brought a variety of challenges for us.
“Unsafe vapes have been found in general supply, while other products lack instructions and warnings which are essential to inform and protect vulnerable groups of consumers, such as those who suffer from diabetes or heart conditions.
“Retailers must not sell non-compliant vapes to the public. And of course shops must not sell any type of vapes to children.”
Highland Council Trading Standards Officers have recently issued several Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of £200 each for such offences. Three FPNs can lead to a ‘Banning Order’ forbidding future sales of these products.
It is a criminal offence to sell tobacco or vapes to someone under 18 years of age or fail to operate an age verification policy. Vapes should also be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before being sold to consumers. Non-approved products have been found to contain dangerous levels of nicotine.
MacKenzie added: “Our ongoing concern is that retailers may be buying single-use vapes designed for the US market on the internet from sellers not based in the UK. These can have nicotine levels 10 to 12 times higher than the legal level here. We will not hesitate to take firm action against businesses that sell to children or knowingly supply unsafe vapes to the Highland public.”
Business Companion, operated by CTSI, provides guidance for retailers on the sale of tobacco and vapes, including how to ensure they are only sold to adults.