By Bill Jacobs, Local Democracy Reporter
A local authority is stepping up enforcement action against shops selling illegal vapes and vaping products to under age customers.
Blackburn with Darwen Council revealed the crackdown after a reader contacted the Lancashire Telegraph expressing concern about the lack of prosecutions of offenders.
The move comes as worries nationally increase about the rise in vaping among teenagers and its potential long-term impact on their health.
The reader said: “I want to raise my concerns about the lack of enforcement by Blackburn with Darwen Council.
“Over the past few months, several shops have been caught selling illegal vaping products and counterfeit cigarettes. Yet no prosecution has taken place and they all continue to carry on with their illegal activities.
“This kind of activity from traders is encouraging anti-social behaviour with gangs of youths hanging around.
“Other councils are closing these shops down for three months, prosecuting with courts handing out suspended sentences, yet Blackburn with Darwen Council seems to deploy a tactic of – couple of inspections every month, warning, and then carry on as you were.
“It is time to take tougher actions on these kind of activities in our borough.”
A Blackburn with Darwen Council spokesperson said: “Taking action to seize illegal vapes is vital to protect people from harm, especially our children and young people, and under age sales of tobacco and e-cigs, and the supply of illicit versions of these products remains one of the trading standards team’s top priorities.
“A number of enforcement operations have taken place in recent months, and more operations are planned.
“It goes without saying that where any evidence found supports any legal action, that action will be taken in line with the Council’s Enforcement Policy.
“People with information about illegal products are encouraged to report this information to Citizen’s Advice at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or by calling 0800 144 8848.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)