By Shannon Milmine, Local Democracy Reporter
Watchdogs found “significantly worse results than expected” when they carried out under-age test purchases on vapes across South Lanarkshire.
Trading standards officers launched their operation in June and July across 70 premises – and almost one in three failed.
It resulted in 21 retailers being hit with fixed penalty fines after the team used under-18 volunteers to check that retailers asked for proof of age where appropriate and if this was not produced, then refused to sell.
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.”
The worrying result of the test purchase operation comes in a week when the Scottish government agreed to a consultation on the ban of disposable vapes, which was called for by South Lanarkshire Council earlier this year.
David Booth, executive director of the council’s 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.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)