Scottish youth vape sales shock

Push to crack down on rogue retailers

Colourful-looking vapes appeal to kids, says the Trading Standards Scotland team.
Colourful-looking vapes appeal to kids, says the Trading Standards Scotland team.

ONE in every five Scottish retailers have been found to be willing to sell vapes to under-18s.

According to ongoing work by chiefs from Trading Standards Scotland, just over 20% of retailers sold vapes to an under-18 volunteer for the group. It was also found that one in eight of the premises visited sold cigarettes to the underage volunteer.

David MacKenzie, chair for the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland, said: “The health of young people is a key priority for Trading Standards and smoking is the greatest threat to their health and development, especially for younger children.

“These results are very concerning and we will be stepping up efforts this year to support sellers with advice, and continue to take enforcement action where sellers break the law.

“NVPs (nicotine vapour products) can be a useful cessation aid for smokers who want to give up smoking, but they are not intended as a lifestyle product for young people.

“The bright packaging colours and sugary and fruity flavours are child-appealing, and the easy availability of single use vapes in particular is not helpful.”

Last year Trading Standards Scotland officers carried out test purchases at 312 premises, marking a total 63 failures for vapes, which is a considerably poorer performance from recent years, according to the Trading Standards team.

This has been put down to an absence of enforcement activity over the last two years, as well as the rising popularity of disposable vapes, according to Trading Standards Scotland.

John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), said: “These figures highlight a problem that the industry has been campaigning against for many years now: rogue retailers selling vapes to children and not enough being done to empower Trading Standards to effectively police the problem.

“Vaping is proven to be the best way for smokers to quit and our best chance to beat the modern scourge of smoking, which still kills around 250 people a day in the UK alone.

“Scotland has the highest incidence of smoking in the UK and while the Scottish Government needs to do much more to stop rogue retailers selling to children, they must also support smokers, around half of whom will die if they don’t quit.”

Pete Cheema, chief executive at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said: “It is clear that more action needs to be taken, and we are keen to work with the Scottish Government to improve public awareness and education, which has been sorely lacking on this issue.

“We will shortly be publishing our Healthier Choices, Healthier Communities campaign, based on the clear message that if you smoke and wish to quit, you should vape.

“This will include an appeal for strict action by producers, retailers, policymakers and enforcement agencies to dramatically reduce the appeal of vapes to younger people.

“It is vital that both the Scottish Government and Trading Standards crack down on the illicit trade of vaping products, by enforcing the rules that are already in place, and support those who are acting responsibly.”