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Council warning after child is sold vapes in 10 different premises

A test purchasing exercise by Blackpool Council found a 15 year old girl was able to purchase vapes at 10 different premises in Blackpool

“Do better or face the consequences” – that’s the message to shop owners from Blackpool Council after a 15-year-old girl was allowed to buy e-cigarettes from 10 different premises last week.

A test purchasing exercise, where young people are used to test compliance on access to products or services that have legal age restrictions, resulted in a 100 per cent failure rate last week.

Ten premises across Blackpool were visited by the 15-year-old girl who attempted to buy e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Not one asked her for proof of age.

Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards team carried out the test on a range of businesses including shops, licensed venues and petrol stations. The visits also uncovered some shops selling illegal vaping products which were seized by officers and removed from the consumer market. The council says that each of these will now be contacted and appropriate enforcement action taken.

A repeat visit will be made in the next three months and if a second failure occurs the premises could be at risk of closure.

Paula Burdess, cabinet member for public protection, said: “This is completely unacceptable. Not one of the ten premises the team visited asked for proof of age – not one.

Some 31 per cent of young people in Blackpool are vaping compared to 15.8 per cent nationally.

“Businesses must do better. If they are unsure of the legislation regarding e-cigarettes, they can ask our team for help. No child should be able to walk into a shop in Blackpool and buy an age-restricted product.

Earlier this year, research was carried out regarding the number of children and young people in Blackpool who vape. The research was commissioned by Public Health Blackpool due to rising concerns around the popularity and visibility of vaping in children and young people.

The research involved conversations with 4,170 children and young people in the town and found that 31 per cent of young people in Blackpool are vaping compared to 15.8 per cent nationally.

One of the vapes the girl was able to buy was shaped like a fidget toy

“We found that vapes appeared to be easily accessible for children and young people – the most commonly reported ways that they acquired vapes being buying them at corner shops, vape-shops and receiving vapes from friends and family,” said Dr Arif Rajpura, director of Public Health.

“E-cigarettes are an age-restricted product because there is potential for users to become addicted to nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. Vaping is not a risk-free alternative particularly for those who have never smoked and we do not yet know the long-term effects of vaping on health.

“I was horrified to hear the outcome of this test purchasing exercise. Some of the products purchased were definitely branded and marketed to appeal to young people – one was even in the style of a fidget toy.”

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