A warning has been issued after 11 shops in Lincoln and North Hykeham were found to be selling e-liquids and e-cigarettes to under 18s.
In an undercover test purchasing operation in Lincoln and North Hykeham last week, Lincolnshire Trading Standards found over half the shops it visited sold vape liquids to a 17-year-old.
Officers tested 20 retail outlets, including supermarkets, Vape shops, petrol stations and newsagents. Eleven of these outlets, including all the Vape shops, sold the underage test purchaser e-liquids containing nicotine.
Where retailers refused a sale, a range of reasons were given including: refusal following a proof of age request or outright refusal to serve a young person.
The ban on sales to under 18s came into force on October 1, 2015. Officers at Trading Standards have made the decision on this initial occasion to issue a warning without penalties.
Dan Brown, senior trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The new laws came into force on October 1, making e-cigarettes and its components, including e-liquids and the atomiser which turns the solution into a vapour, illegal to be sold to under 18s.
“We wanted to use this operation to ensure that retailers knew, understood and were following this new law and not selling to young people. Sadly, we found that more than half the retailers we tested sold e-liquids containing nicotine to our underage person.
“In this case, as it is new legislation and as so many businesses failed, we decided to give a warning and issue guidance to help the retailers understand the current legislation.
“We will be retesting these retail outlets and others in the area in the near future, and if they fail the test again they will face fines of up to £2,500.
“The message to retailers selling any age restricted product is, if you are not sure how old someone is – ask for identification i.e. passport, driver’s licence or any proof of age card displaying the pass hologram. We would encourage all retailers to adopt the Challenge 25 scheme to prevent illegal sales.”