Highland Council Trading Standards is urging retailers who are registered to sell Nicotine Vapour Products (NVPs, more commonly known as vapes or e-cigarettes) to ensure that they buy from reputable UK suppliers and wholesalers.
Trading Standards also state that these vapes should say they have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before selling them to consumers. Non-approved products have been found to contain dangerous levels of nicotine.
Additionally, retailers wishing to sell tobacco and vapes must by law register at https://www.tobaccoregisterscotland.org/
It is a criminal offence to sell tobacco or vapes to someone under 18 years of age or fail to operate an age verification policy (“Challenge 25”).
Officers have recently issued several Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of £200 each for such offences.
Three FPNs can lead to a “Banning Order” forbidding future sales of these products.
Trading Standards officers have found a wide range of non-compliant vapes on the marketplace locally, some of which pose a high risk to the health of potential users.
Recent trends in vaping products have seen a huge demand for single use vapes.
These are battery operated and sold in a variety of flavour and bright colours which can be particularly attractive to young persons and children.
David MacKenzie, The Highland Council’s Trading Standards Manager explains:
“The explosion in the sale of vapes recently has brought a variety of challenges for us.
“Unsafe vapes have been found in general supply, while other products lack instructions and warnings which are essential to inform and protect vulnerable groups of consumers, such as those who suffer from diabetes or heart conditions.
“Retailers must not sell non-compliant vapes to the public. And of course shops must not sell any type of vapes to children.”
In the last 12 months, officers from Highland Council Trading Standards have seized well over 3000 illegal vape products from shops in the Highlands.
David MacKenzie adds:
“Another recent example was at the Black Isle Show regarding the sale of single use vapes from an unregistered stall.
“Prompt action by the show organisers enabled Trading Standards to seize vapes that not only lacked necessary labels, instructions, and warnings but were also found to have extremely high levels of nicotine.
“Our ongoing concern is that retailers may be buying single use vapes designed for the US market on the internet from sellers not based in the UK.
“These can have nicotine levels 10 to 12 times higher than the legal level here.
“We will not hesitate to take firm action against businesses that sell to children or knowingly supply unsafe vapes to the Highland public.”
Retailers selling vapes can check if the product they have bought has been registered with the MHRA by going to https://vape-click.com/
Businesses can also view further advice from the MHRA online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-for-retailers-and-producers
The Business Companion website, operated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), provides guidance for retailers on the sale of tobacco and vapes, including how to ensure they are only sold to adults.
Anyone with concerns about particular vaping products, or by the actions of any retailer in relation to possible underage sales, can report them by contacting Trading Standards partner agency Advice Direct Scotland on telephone 0808 164 6000 or at https://www.consumeradvice.scot/ (external link) or via the webpage.