Illegal vapes still on sale in Blackpool as Trading Standards teams ramp up enforcement

Stores which failed a test purchase operation have been revisited
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A clampdown on the illegal sale of vapes to children in Blackpool is succeeding although dangerous e-cigarettes continue to be found in shops in the town.

Illegal vapes have been found on saleIllegal vapes have been found on sale
Illegal vapes have been found on sale

An update on work to tackle the supply of illicit tobacco and vaping products found stores were now complying better with regulations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A campaign in December last year saw 10 premises visited by a 15-year-old girl as part of a test purchase operation. She attempted to buy e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

The teenager was not asked for proof of age in any of the stores meaning the operation resulted in a 100 per cent failure rate.

However councillors have been told the same shops were tested again on February 19 this year, which produced a 70 per cent pass rate.

Jennifer Clayton, head of public protection and enforcement, told a meeting of the Climate Change and Environment Scrutiny Committee, said: “This shows evidence that visits undertaken by Trading Standards officers to shops selling tobacco products are successful.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It is hoped that with continued visits, the pass rate will significantly increase year on year, hopefully achieving 100 per cent compliance.”

She said illicit vapes had been seized, including one which had been advertised as nicotine-free but tests found it contained 30 per cent nicotine when 20 per cent is the legal limit.

Ms Clayton said officers also found shops were selling strawberry flavoured vapes that light up and vapes made to look like cans of pop, which were clearly marketed at young people.

She added: “Children are in school uniform walking home from school with these vapes in their hands, which is really concerning.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A report to the committee also warned: “The illicit tobacco trade has evolved in Blackpool over the last decade from a position of isolated shops selling a few packets of under the counter cigarettes, into a key cash generator for organised criminals.

“The team secured funding from Trading Standards Northwest to carry out additional operations around the illicit tobacco and vape industry. This shift in illicit vaping products has provided evidence that young people are being targeted by unscrupulous traders.”

A recent survey by HealthWatch Blackpool found 31 per cent of young people currently vape or sometimes vape.