Published: Tuesday, 11th Jul 2023

Trading Standards officers have raided shops across the borough as Bolton Council clamps down on the illegal sale of vapes to under-18s.

Trading standards- vapeIn a major operation alongside Greater Manchester Police, the council visited shops that have been reported to be selling e-cigarettes to school-age children.

The move comes after parents and headteachers have raised concerns over the growing national trend of vape use in schools.

In response, Bolton Council’s Trading Standards, Public Health and Childrens Services departments have committed to addressing the issue by highlighting the dangers of child vape use, raising awareness of the law, and targeting rogue businesses.

Alongside the raids, a number of test purchases have been carried out to ensure shops are following their legal obligation to check ID before selling vapes.

While vaping can help smokers quit, it is not harmless and is not for young people under 18 as it is especially important to protect young lungs and brains.

Despite these issues, many vape products appear to be targeted and marketed specifically at young people.

This week’s direct action will be backed by a public awareness campaign and a communications toolkit for schools when pupils return in September.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Regulatory Service, Cllr Sue Haworth, said:

“There is a legal age limit on vape products for a reason, selling e-cigarettes to under-18s is no different than selling them alcohol or cigarettes.

“We carry out test purchases based on intelligence from members of the public to ensure shop owners are following the law.

“While the majority are compliant, it only takes a minority of shops flouting the rules to put the health of Bolton children at risk.

“This action will continue until the message is understood – Bolton will not tolerate the illegal sale of vapes to under-18s.”

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Linda Thomas, said:

“Vapes were designed to give adult smokers a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, and to ultimately help them stop smoking.

“They were never intended to be used by non-smokers, and most certainly never by young children.

“It is extremely worrying to see the number of young people who are becoming addicted, especially as little is known about the long-term health effects of continued vape use.

“We share the concern of local councils across the country and call on the industry to make sure their products are not designed to appeal to children.”

Unsafe vape products taken off Bolton streets

The operation also focused on the sale of unregulated vape products, seizing potentially dangerous goods that are not legally approved for sale in the UK.

Also available online, there is no way for customers to know what chemicals these unregulated vapes contain posing a serious health risk to users of all ages.

During the series of raids, 2,270 illegal vape products were seized by Bolton Council’s Trading Standards Team.