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Illegal Sales Raids

Posted 19th August 2022 by Dave Cross
Various Trading Standards departments have been busy across the United Kingdom during 2022. The enforcement action on illegal sales of vape products continued recently in Gloucestershire. Teams of officers supported by the police have raided a series of stores across the country.

Action in London typified the type of activity taking place across the country when Trading Standards swooped to clean up Oxford Street – and officers walked away with 43 large sacks containing over £100,000’s worth of disposable ecigs.

Raj Mistry, Executive Director of Environment & City Management at Westminster City Council, said: “We are putting these questionable traders on notice that they will not be tolerated in our city. We’ll continue to take action against such unsafe trading activities in order to keep our residents and visitors safe. We will not allow those selling illegal or counterfeit goods in Westminster to keep up such unsafe practices. Sooner or later we will identify such illegal trading and we will seek prosecutions and the maximum fines.”

The intelligence-driven operation was mirrored in Gloucestershire following complaints from parents, schools, and the public. Trading Standards conducted test purchases in 29 stores using underage volunteers, discovering that 6 of them were perfectly happy to break the law.

Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: “The results of this survey have been disappointing. While it is good to see that the majority of retailers are acting responsibly there seems to be a small number who continue to flout the law. Our trading standards officers will now be advising these retailers to ensure they do not sell any products containing nicotine to under-18s and they could be taken to court if they continue to do so.

Previously, trade bodies the Independent British Vape Trade Association and the UK Vaping Industry Association have spoken strongly about the issue of illegal sales.

Independent British Vape Trade Association Chairman Marcus Saxton said: “Illegal sales undermine the great work that’s been going on with the vast majority of businesses in this industry, that has taken place since 2008 and helped over 3.6 million smokers make the switch. But it’s really important. Anything around illegal, non-compliant vapes and/or getting into the hands of youths is something that we take really seriously and support the authorities to stamp down on.

The regulations are in play for a specific reason, so, anything that seeks to entice people with something that’s larger or contains greater nicotine is just totally flouting this regulation – and certainly undermines the great work that’s gone on by the vast majority.”

The UK Vaping Industry Association’s Director General John Dunne said: “We wrote to the Department for Health and Social Care … to address the issue of child access to vapes, proposing a set of recommendations to come down hard on those who sell vapes to minors whilst maintaining vaping’s critical role for helping smokers to quit.”

You can report illegal vape sales by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

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