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Shops sell vapes to 15-year-old during test purchasing operation

Trading Standards

28 February 2022

The vapes that were sold to the 15 year old

Two shops are facing investigation after being caught selling vapes to a 15-year-old girl during a test purchasing operation.

The exercise was carried out by our Trading Standards Team following complaints of underage sales at five shops in Northampton.

The teenager visited all five shops under the supervision of Trading Standards’ officers, attempting to buy vapes or cigarettes. The legal age to buy these in the UK is 18.

Three shops passed the test after asking the test purchaser for ID and refusing sale when she was unable to produce any. However two others face further investigation after they sold the girl vapes and failed to ask for her ID.

Shopkeepers across West Northamptonshire are being reminded that they must ensure they do not sell these products to under 18s. 

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 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.

The vast majority of businesses are helping to keep our children safe by checking for ID before selling age-restricted products. Unfortunately a small minority continue to fail in their responsibilities, and it is those people that we target with test purchasing operations such as this.

Asking someone how old they are, or making an assumption about their age is not enough. We would encourage sellers to follow the Challenge 25 policy, by asking for a valid and recognised photo ID to be shown by anyone who looks like they could be under the age of 25.
Cllr David Smith, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Engagement and Regulatory Services on WNC

People can report underage sales to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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