Trading standards are advising retailers to be vigilant and responsible when selling e-cigs and liquid nicotine, applying the same checks as to the sale of any other age-restricted products.  This is after an undercover intelligence gathering operation found 9 out of 10 shops sold nicotine-inhaling products (NIPS) to an underage volunteer. There has been a surge in the number of users of e-cigs and the change in the law is intended to protect children.

From the 1st October 2015, it became illegal to sell nicotine-inhaling products including e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine to anyone under 18. Retailers caught flouting the law could face a fine of up to £2,500 as well as a criminal record.

Cabinet member for Public Health and Protection, Councillor Preet Gill said: ‘‘Clearly this is an unacceptable result. It’s important that retailers have procedures in place to ensure they do not break the law.

"Research suggests that e-cigarettes could act as a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes and the long-term health effects of using an electronic cigarette are still unknown.''

Bob Charnley, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager said: ‘‘It’s our job to protect children by ensuring that businesses are aware of the changes in law and understand their responsibility to ensure such products are not sold to minors.''

He added: ‘‘We have written to all the offending businesses reminding them of their legal obligations and that a further failure may result in enforcement action such as a criminal prosecution.’’