More than 10,500 illegal vapes are seized across Hampshire as part of a crackdown by Trading Standards
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Hampshire County Council said it was because they had more liquid than the legally-permitted limit of two millilitres. It comes after the council passed a motion in the summer to take action to help educate students, parents, and teachers about the dangers of underage vaping.
Its action plan will also focus on the health risks, legal implications, and further enforcement of underage sales restrictions at retail outlets. As a result, Trading Standards was given extra funding to develop an in-house team to address the supply of vapes to young people in the county, excluding Portsmouth and Southampton which is the responsibility of the two city councils.
Since September, the HCC Trading Standard (TS) team has been able to send 28 warning letters, visit 40 businesses selling vapes, and inspect processes and safeguards to prevent underage sales. At November’s full council, Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, executive member for countryside and regulatory services, revealed more than 10,500 illicit vapes had been seized, which had a total value of £153,674.
Cllr Oppenheimer said: “They [Trading Standards team] have seized over 10,500 illicit vapes, often with excessive liquid content. The total retail value of the seized product is now £153,674.
“Test purchasing operations using a plan involving volunteer young people over the forthcoming few months. These would be target shops where reports continue, and concerns are being raised as a result of the proactive visits. Formal action would be considered if any sales were made to these young volunteers. This action may include licence reviews or criminal prosecutions.
“[..] As soon as the Government bans them and due to that action, all the vaping shops in Hampshire will know they will have to comply with any new regulations from day one, or we will be on their case.”
As part of the Government’s proposals, it is anticipated that the county council will receive £1.5 million per year in additional support until 2028/29.
The majority of which is expected to be spent on expanding the “Hampshire Stop Smoking Service”, but could also be allocated to awareness raising, workforce training, and youth prevention activities.
Leader of the council Councillor Rob Humby said: “This [the additional funding] gives us the fantastic opportunity to reduce the prevalence of smoking and prevent ill health and early death.
“I was also pleased that the Government’s consultation on preventing young people from taking up smoking and vaping includes proposals to restrict the sale of disposable vapes. The resolution on underage vaping passed by the full council in July highlighted the environmental harm caused by disposable vapes as well as their potential to act as a gateway for young people to access tobacco products.
“The county council has been on the front foot in responding to the concerning youth vaping trend. With officers in public health, schools, and trading standards are working together to support schools and crack down on underage sales.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) urged the ban to come into effect immediately in July as it forecasted the prohibition that the UAE and France impose for disposable vapes in 2026 and by December 2023, respectively, will flood the UK.
In 2023, figures show 69 per cent of young people said the most frequently used device was a disposable (single-use) vape, up from 52 per cent in 2022 and 7.7 per cent in 2021. The most popular brand was Elf Bar, and the most popular flavours are fruit and sweet or soft drinks.