Underage people are targetting corner shops to buy vapes because of lax ID checks, claims a new study from Imperial College London based on the survey findings of more 12,000 under-18s.
According to the study, despite sale of vapes being illegal for anyone under 18, children are increasingly becoming aware of vapes and more likely to go to small shops to buy them than supermarkets. Data show two in three children now see e-cigarettes for sale and it also revealed children are twice as likely to go to small shops to source vapes for purchase than they were in 2019.
Study lead author, Dr Anthony Laverty, from Imperial, told The Telegraph that children are likely flocking to small shops to buy cigarettes because they are more likely to get served and less likely to be ID’d. He said there “is likely a few things” leading children to target corner shops as a place to buy vapes.
“There are a lot of small shops around and I am sure anyone who has been in has noticed that there is a lot of advertising there for e-cigarettes,” he said. “Kids know that these shops sell these products, and they also know that they are cheap.
“Kids know from all the advertising that these shops sell e-cigarettes, and they know from the news and their friends that lots of them are vaping and that they are managing to buy these somewhere.”
“Enforcement overall of age verification is not as good as it could be and maybe children know that there is more enforcement and that they are more likely to be asked for ID in larger shops. Word likely gets around from friends about where you can buy these without being asked for ID.”
Criticising the current policies and enforcement, the report author stated that the findings show that measures designed to prevent children getting e-cigarettes are failing. Advertising, promotion, and sale of both tobacco and e-cigarettes “need to be reinforced to deter use among children”, states the study.
“This study shows that children are seeing a lot of these products in shops and are able to obtain them,” Dr Laverty said, calling on the government to bring in a ban on promotion in most stores and introduce standard packaging to reduce the appeal to younger clientele.
“This would drive down use among children, as would adding an excise tax to disposables, which are particularly cheap,” he added.
Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, added, “Quantifying the impact on children of the growing promotion of vapes is crucial to determine the scale of the problem and how best it can be addressed. This analysis shows that instore promotion has the biggest impact, which is why Ash is advocating that promotion and display of e-cigarettes in shops should be prohibited, as should the child friendly packaging and labelling of vapes.”