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Shop sells e-cigarette to a teen during Council test purchase

Licensing and regulation

25 August 2022

Graphic showing 4 West Northamptonshire Council offices around the county

A shop sold an e-cigarette to a girl under the legal purchasing age during a test operation carried out by West Northamptonshire Council’s Trading Standards team this month.

Two 16 year-old girls, under the supervision of Trading Standards’ officers, visited 13 shops across Daventry and Northampton in August in order to attempt to buy e-cigarettes and cigarettes. The legal age for purchasing both these items is 18.

12 out of 13 shops correctly asked the girls for ID and refused sale when they could not produce any.

However one shop sold a girl an e-cigarette making no attempt to ask for proof of age from the underage girl, and will now face further investigation.

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Member for community safety and engagement and regulatory services at West Northamptonshire Council, said: "It is encouraging to see that 12 out of 13 shops stopped and asked this girl for ID when attempting to purchase tobacco-based products, however, this operation demonstrates that there is still work to do.

"Asking someone how old they are, or making an assumption about their age is not enough. All shops must have policies in place to challenge young people buying age restricted goods, such as alcohol, tobacco or vaping products."

All of the shops chosen for the exercise were the subject of complaints over underage sales, and shopkeepers across West Northamptonshire are being reminded of the proof-of-age checks they must make before selling tobacco or e-cigarettes.

Most businesses do this by operating a Challenge 25 policy. If a customer looks under the age of 25, proof of age is required, and staff must be trained to verify the customer’s age before selling age-restricted products.

The vape and cigarette test purchases were part of an enforcement project supported by the Department of Health & Social Care that aims to ensure e-cigarettes or e-liquids are not sold to people under the age of 18.

It follows a previous operation in April, when one out of the six shops visited sold e-cigarettes to a 16-year-old girl.

WNC continue its commitment to monitoring the illegal sale of products to those underage in the West of the county. People can report underage sales to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

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