James Evison 18 November 2016

Vaping products included in tobacco council survey

E-cigarettes and products associated with vaping have been included in a survey of the activity of council trading standards teams for the first time.

The annual National Tobacco Control Survey report, which analyses compliance with tobacco legislation, found 74% of councils had conducted tobacco control activities in relation to underage sales of nicotine inhaling products.

If follows changes to the law in October 2015, when sale of nicotine inhaling products to under-18s became prohibited.

But the report also discovered the number of councils carrying out traditional tobacco control activities relating to underage sales had fallen 17%.

59% of councils undertook test purchase operations but sales levels were higher than tobacco products at 36%.

In total 877 visits to various premises were undertaken by volunteer young persons, with the majority of underage sales occurring at market stalls and car boot sales - 61%.

Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute said e-cigarette use amongst children was relatively rare – but experimentation and awareness was increasing among the demographic.

Livermore said: 'Although young people say their major source of cigarettes is being given them from other people, nearly half of young people admit buying their cigarettes from a shop.

'Trading standards teams play a frontline role in preventing children from obtaining any type of cigarette product and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against retailers that flout the law.

'The law states that if you sell nicotine inhaling products to a person under the age of 18 the maximum penalty on conviction is a fine of £2,500.'

Nicola Blackwood, the Public Health Minister, said it was encouraging to see e-cigarettes being monitored in the survey.

She said: 'Businesses supported a minimum age of sale for these products and this is a helpful reminder of the new legislation.'

The report surveyed trading standards activity across 151 councils in England from April 2015 to March 2016 - returning a response rate of 98%.

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