Concern over illicit vape sales inaction

Illegal vape traders ‘not being taken to task’ in major cities

Scottish Grocers' Federation chief executive Pete Cheema.
Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive Pete Cheema.

THERE is a shocking lack of targeted enforcement action against rogue vape traders in Glasgow, according to a study.

Vape regulation firm Arcus Compliance found that, from the start of 2021 to April 2023, Glasgow Trading Standards issued just £400 in penalties to retailers for underage or illicit vape sales.

And the city council reported zero prosecutions against dodgy vape traders over the period.

The study shows that across 11 major UK provincial cities just 21 prosecutions were made against retailers for underage or illegal sales during the timescale.

And the total amount of fines and penalties across the cities was just £2,188 – less than the top penalty of £2,500 that can be issued to just one offender.

Arcus boss Robert Sidebottom said: “The concerning lack of proactive enforcement in the form of prosecutions and penalties shown by this report demonstrates that the system is in serious distress.”

UK Vaping Industry Association boss John Dunne said penalties “mean very little if Trading Standards don’t have the resources and authority to pursue them”.

Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief exec Pete Cheema said the SGF was working with stakeholders to promote responsible community retailing.

He called for enforcement agencies to really crack down on rogue traders and said the government should ensure repeat offenders faced hefty fines or jail sentences.

The SGF has published a vape rules guide and Cheema said: “Convenience stores are very experienced in dealing with age-restricted products but not all high street retailers have the same level of safeguards.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We take the matters of underage vape sales and illicit vapes very seriously and investigate all complaints.

“In the last three months alone, 67 attempted test purchases of vapes have been made in the city and our team has issued eight £200 fixed penalty notices and eight formal warnings. A report has also been submitted to the procurator fiscal in relation to non-compliant vapes.”