Derby City Council tackles underage vape sales in new BBC documentary

Published: 28 November 2023

Overcapacity vape in blue packaging with 18 plus symbol.

This vape was sold to an underage volunteer during one of the test purchases. (Image: Defenders, BBC)

Derby City Council’s Trading Standards team are back keeping young people safe in their latest operation against sales of vapes to under 18s.

Working with Derbyshire Police, Trading Standards officers carried out a series of test purchases using underage volunteers as part of a wider operation to combat illegal sales.  

A camera crew was on hand to capture a day of test purchasing for the BBC series Defenders.

In total 27 shops were tested across the whole operation. Retailers are expected to ask customers for ID and refuse the sale if they believe the customer is under 18. Despite this, our underage volunteers were sold seven vapes across the whole operation, some of which were also over the legal capacity of 600 puffs.

Donna Dowse, Derby City Council’s Trading Standards manager, features in the documentary and outlines the importance of these operations. She said:

“The sale of vapes to children is a high priority for Trading Standards. We don’t know the long-term effects vapes have on the body yet, especially in underage people whose bodies are still developing.

“It’s important work. It means we’re safeguarding our children. We’ve got a duty to test these shops to make sure they are compliant with the law and to help protect the people of Derby.”

The shops that sold vapes to the test purchasers will receive a follow up visit from Trading Standards officers and could face criminal prosecution or a closure order if they don’t comply.

Councillor Shiraz Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing, Property and Regulatory Services, said:

“While vapes originally came about to help people quit smoking, the low cost, bright packaging and sweet flavours mean more children and non-smokers have taken up vaping.

“We have a duty to protect them from the harms associated with underage sales and counterfeit vapes, and I’m proud of the work our Trading Standards team continue to do to make our city safer and healthier.

“This documentary sends out a positive message and will give people a glimpse of the often-unseen work that goes on to protect our young people and educate businesses. I’d also like to thank our young volunteers for playing their part in this operation. It would not have been possible without them.”

The Council’s Trading Standards team have a No ID, No Sale pack available to businesses, containing materials to help prevent the sale of vapes to children. Businesses can contact the team through Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.

If you know of anyone who sells vapes or tobacco illegally, you can report them to trading standards through the Citizens Advice portal or by using the number above.

If you are under the age of 18 and vaping but want to quit, or an adult looking for information to support a child, help and advice can be found on the NHS website.

You can watch the episode of Defenders, featuring Derby City Council’s Trading Standards team, on the BBC iPlayer.

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