The Welsh government has announced funding to Trading Standards Wales to help tackle illegal vaping in the country, Lynne Neagle, the deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, has announced.
The funding will build on a previous operation to tackle illegal tobacco, which saw more than 840,000 illegal cigarettes and more than 400kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco seized from commercial premises in Wales.
Trading Standards Wales officers will be cracking down on illegal vapes with measures such as test purchasing, dog detection to identify rogue retailers, intelligence gathering and checks at ports.
“This is a complex and large-scale problem that is affecting every community in Wales, and the funding we are providing will help enforcement officers stop illegal vaping products being sold in Wales,” Lynne Neagle, the deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, said.
“Not only are products being illegally sold to children, but some are also potentially harmful to health, and have been found to contain dangerous chemicals and harmful levels of metals like lead.
“Illegal vaping products are also known to have links to criminality and child sexual exploitation.
“Crucially, this increased enforcement will see fewer children obtaining these products and being put at risk of abuse.
“This benefits the environment too, with less of these potentially dangerous products harming our environment by being wrongly disposed of.”
Judith Parry, chair of Trading Standards Wales, welcomed the government funding.
“Vaping was initially seen as a supporting mechanism to smoking cessation. Unfortunately, we have seen the market in illegal and disposable vapes take off, with it being the main area of concern for trading standards currently,” Parry said.
“Seizures of illegal product arriving in Wales from its ports and by other means runs into hundreds of thousands.
“Trading Standards Wales is concerned with the impact that such products can have on our youths with many that had never previously smoked taking to vaping. Many of these products can contain illegal substances such as heavy metals, the ingestion of which can cause harm to an individual over a period of time.
“This is a complicated area of work which permeates into the world of organised crime and child sexual exploitation. As such it should not be perceived as a victimless crime and trading standards services across Wales, working closely with partner agencies, will do whatever they can to ensure that the trade in illegal vapes is regulated as efficiently and effectively as possible.”