17th October 2019

Underage nicotine product sales rise

A new CTSI report shows 40% of retailers failed test purchase inspections – compared to 28% last year.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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I'd say to the Government, if you want your policies delivered effectively, you need to provide appropriate funding and resources through to the front line

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has released the Tobacco Control Survey report for England 2018-19. The survey, supported by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), addresses the supply of tobacco and nicotine inhaling products to people under the age of 18 in England.

Test purchase operations with underage persons at retail premises found that 40% of the 227 tested premises failed to undertake age checks and subsequently made illegal sales of nicotine-inhaling products to underage consumers. This figure was a significant rise compared to last year’s report, when 28% of shops made illegal sales. The majority of shops making illegal sales were vaping establishments.

Decisions to investigate specific businesses with test purchases were intelligence-led. Local councils may have received complaints about the business, or it may have failed a previous test purchase.

The rate of prosecution of local businesses for underage nicotine product sales stands at 2%. While this is a low figure, councils tend to approach local businesses with a supportive philosophy that seeks to improve local business practices. A prosecution is a last resort. Support methods may include advice, guidance, or signposting to Business Companion, a website that explains UK trading standards law.

Speaking about the report on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, CTSI Chief Executive, Leon Livermore said that he supports banning flavoured vaping products which may be more attractive to young people.

Livermore also commented on funding cuts that have reduced Trading Standards resources by over 50% over the past decade: “I’d say to the Government, if you want your policies delivered effectively, you need to provide appropriate funding and resources through to the front line.”