By Ivan Morris Poxton, Local Democracy Reporter
North Lincolnshire Council is launching a fresh crackdown on the sale of vapes to children.
Teens will be sent into shops in a series of undercover operations across the area to catch out retailers breaking the law. Like tobacco, a person must be 18 or over in the UK to be legally able to buy e-cigarettes or vapes.
Anyone caught selling to children can be fined up to £2,500. Vapes which can come in a range of flavours, contain nicotine, the addictive substance also found in tobacco.
“The approach we are taking is targeted to expose rogue retailers and serve as a powerful deterrent,” said Cllr John Davison, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities (urban). He continued: “The financial penalties are designed to send a clear message that we take this issue seriously – we are committed to protecting our young people from the negative effects of vaping and will not tolerate any attempts to circumvent the law, it’s irresponsible and we will not accept it here in North Lincolnshire.”
Council leader Cllr Rob Waltham said it was the council’s aim to ensure young people’s well-being and mounting concerns about potential vaping risks demanded tougher measures. “While the evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco products, for adults the choice is theirs to take however there are age restrictions for a reason –selling vapes to children and teens is not acceptable and we will tackle this.
“We are committed to preventing underage access to these products, shopkeepers need to be aware that the young person they are selling to may indeed be part of the undercover operations we’re launching – that could cost them.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has previously reported on the council’s use in 2022 of extraordinary covert surveillance powers to successfully prosecute a person selling vapes to underage people. That individual had to pay £1,233.33 in fines and costs.
In December, a large quantity of illegal tobacco and illegal vapes was found in a shop’s secret compartment in Crowle. More recently, in neighbouring North East Lincolnshire a Cleethorpes shop owner was prosecuted in May after a £4,000 haul of illicit tobacco and vape products was found in his shop.
In July, a Grimsby shop owner was ordered at court to pay £1,560 after being caught selling illegal vape bars over seven times the UK limit for nicotine liquid.
North Lincolnshire Council are also reminding vapers to dispose of their vapes responsibly. Anyone caught littering in North Lincolnshire can be fined £150, with this limit set to increase to £500 in the coming weeks.
Cllr Waltham added: “I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it another thousand, if people think the council is here to clean up after them we’ll charge them for the privilege – the taxpayers here will not pick up the tab, the people acting irresponsibly will.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)