Vaping products sold to children during council undercover operation

Date published: 28 January 2020

An investigation is under way into two businesses after e-liquids were sold to two children during an undercover operation run by Rochdale Borough Council. 

The businesses, which cannot be named as investigations are currently ongoing, allowed a 16-year-old and 17-year-old volunteer to purchase the nicotine inhaling products. 

The council was carrying out a test purchasing exercise, visiting seven premises in December. The volunteers entered the businesses without identification and attempted to buy the e-liquids. The businesses made the sales without questioning their age or asking for identification. 

All businesses tested had been sent a letter with advice on age-restricted products one month before the tests were carried out. The purpose of the tests was to evaluate what actions businesses take to prevent underage sales. 

Full investigations will now be conducted into the two premises and appropriate action will be taken. 

Councillor Sara Rowbotham, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Businesses have a duty to protect the health and wellbeing of our young people and we will make sure those who don’t are held accountable. 

“This is another example of the excellent work carried out by our trading standards team which helps to keep our residents safe and it sends a message to businesses that we are carrying out checks.” 

The possible actions the council can take include a formal written warning, a caution or prosecution. For the sale of an e-liquid, covered by The Nicotine Inhaling Products Regulations 2015, there is a maximum fine of £2,500. 

The test purchasing exercise is part of a council crackdown on underage sales. The council regularly tests licensed premises and retail outlets to prevent dangerous age-restricted products such as alcohol and tobacco being purchased by children. 

Rochdale’s trading standards team encourages traders to ask for photographic ID from anyone who appears to be under 25 years old. A sale should only be made once ID has been produced that proves a customer is over 18. 

Residents with concerns about any suspected sales of any age restricted products to children should report it via the confidential Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

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