March 1, 2022
Two shops are facing investigation after being caught selling vapes to a 15-year-old girl during a test purchasing operation. The operation was carried out by West Northampton Trading Standards Team following complaints of underage sales at five shops in Northampton.
The teenager visited all five shops under the supervision of Trading Standards’ officers, attempting to buy vapes or cigarettes. The legal age to buy these in the UK is 18.
Three shops passed the test after asking the test purchaser for ID and refusing sale when she was unable to produce any. However, two others face further investigation after they sold the girl vapes and failed to ask for her ID.
The council has reminded shopkeepers across West Northamptonshire that they must ensure they do not sell these products to under 18s.
Most businesses do this by operating a Challenge 25 policy. If a customer looks under the age of 25, proof of age is required, and staff must be trained to verify the customer’s age before selling age-restricted products.
The vape test purchases were part of an enforcement project supported by the Department of Health & Social Care that aims to ensure e-cigarettes or e-liquids are not sold to people under the age of 18.
“The vast majority of businesses are helping to keep children safe by checking for ID before selling age-restricted products. Unfortunately a small minority continue to fail in their responsibilities, and it is those people that we target with test purchasing operations such as this,” says Cllr David Smith, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Engagement and Regulatory Services on WNC.
“Asking someone how old they are, or making an assumption about their age is not enough. The council also encourages sellers to follow the Challenge 25 policy, by asking for a valid and recognised photo ID to be shown by anyone who looks like they could be under the age of 25.”