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Seizure of 2000 illegal vapes in the Highlands sparks plea to stamp out irresponsible sellers


By Philip Murray

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Trading Standards officers have appealed for help in stamping out illegal vape sales, as well as sales of illegal vape products.
Trading Standards officers have appealed for help in stamping out illegal vape sales, as well as sales of illegal vape products.

ILLEGAL vape sales and dodgy knock-offs have sparked a plea to Highland businesses to do their bit to stamp out the issue after more than 2000 were seized in a year.

Highland Council's trading standards team has appealed for help from reputable businesses in tackling the problem of illegal sales of vaping products. to children, and of products which exceed safe nicotine content.

David MacKenzie, trading standards manager, explained: “We are responding to a recent upsurge in public concerns about single use vapes, involving both illegal sales to children and sales of products which contain excess amounts of nicotine or other fluids and are not safe for anyone to use.

"Most local businesses that sell vapes have worked with our officers to ensure that they comply and keep people safe. But unfortunately, a minority of sellers have been irresponsible, and we are very grateful to the information received about them from members of the public which we have followed up.

Related: Councillors bid to get local authority to back campaign to ban disposable vapes

"We always work collaboratively with businesses who want to do the right thing, but we will not hesitate to take firm action against those that flout these important public protection and child safety laws.”

Since last summer, the trading standards team has carried out 109 visits to businesses selling vapes, carried out 55 test purchases and seized just under 2000 illegal vapes.

Formal actions taken include 14 fixed penalty fines being issued for underage sales, along with a number of formal warnings and one civil court order being granted.

David MacKenzie continued: "Any prospective buyer who looks under 25 years old should be asked to show ID. Shops must operate an underage sales prevention policy, which includes a written refusals log, and provide training and clear instructions for staff.

"To check for compliance, we carry out ‘test purchases’ where, under strictly controlled conditions, a young volunteer attempts to buy vapes. All sellers are subject to these checks and our officers will respond to all requests for assistance from businesses about these matters.”

The work continues for trading standards on an issue that it says is causing real concern in communities up and down the Highlands. They stress that this is not something that is restricted to one town or area and officers are active throughout the full council area.

David MacKenzie concluded: “This issue is worrying parents, teachers, reputable business owners and many others in the community. If you have information about illegal sales, particularly to children, please let us know by reporting the matter to our partner agency Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or at https://consumeradvice.scot/contact/. ADS provides advice to consumers and passes all relevant information to us.”

Advice for businesses seeking guidance on the law on vape sales is here.

Highland businesses can contact trading standards with specific queries on trading.standards@highland.gov.uk

Anyone interested in volunteering to be a ‘test purchaser’ can apply at www.highland.gov.uk/agerestrictedsales.


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