Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Over 5,000 illegal vapes seized from Lincolnshire shops

Oversized, with too much nicotine, or sold to children; vapes become the new battleground for Lincolnshire Trading Standards.

In a report due to go before the council’s Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny Committee on 21 March, the service reveals that of the 5,417 unsafe products removed from the market between April and December last year, 5,062 were non-compliant vapes.

Non-compliant vapes include those exceeding the legal nicotine content, and the delivery dose (referred to as a ‘puff’). As a rule, disposable vapes should have around 600 puffs, so they comply with the legal limits on size. Amongst those seized by Trading Standards are vapes advertised as containing up to 10,000 puffs – more than 16 times the limit.

Using intelligence gathered from officers, partner organisations and members of the public, Lincolnshire Trading Standards inspects premises thought to be selling illegal vapes and seizes them, pending investigation.

To help advise businesses of the legislation around vapes, Lincolnshire Trading Standards has sent letters to over 100 premises across the county. They provided guidance on how to check that products comply in terms of nicotine capacity, tank size and number of puffs. They also reminded traders that such products cannot be sold to under-18s.

The underage sales of vapes is an area of growing concern for Trading Standards services across the country. In Lincolnshire, 35 per cent of the intelligence received around underage sales is now about the sale of vapes specifically.

The service carries out underage test purchases at premises across the county, and roughly one in five results in the underage volunteers being sold vapes.

The county council also has a dedicated officer who delivers workshops to schools around smoking and alcohol. A new workshop has been developed, specifically around the use of vapes, and this has already been delivered to over 4,000 pupils.

Mark Keal, Head of Lincolnshire Trading Standards, said: “The popularity of disposable vapes has exploded over the last 18 months, and we have seen a lot of shops cashing in on the new craze.

“Many of the businesses now selling vapes haven’t sold nicotine products before, and we’ve gone to great lengths to advise businesses on the regulations around them, to help them comply with the law. What we’re seeing now is more unscrupulous businesses knowingly selling oversized, non-compliant vapes.

“Many of the shops where we find illegal cigarettes, we’re now also finding illegal vapes. However, whereas the dodgy cigarettes are hidden away behind the counter, in a back room, or in some elaborate hide, illegal vapes are often brazenly displayed at the counter, making them seem legitimate to the average customer.

“The growing trend of young people vaping for the first time is also concerning. Whilst shops are clearly consistent in asking for ID when selling cigarettes and alcohol, there seems to be a more slack attitude when it comes to vapes and that’s something we’re working hard to address through education and enforcement.

“Research may show that vaping is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but the health message remains that if you have never smoked, you should not take up vaping.”

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