A Northern Ireland council is to take immediate action to detect shops illegally selling vapes following a “rise” of illegal sales to school children in the district.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) agreed a motion this week to engage a medical watchdog to warn retailers of the dangers associated with children using nicotine containing products.
Currently it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes and vapes to anyone under the age of 18.
Mournes Sinn Fein representative, Michael Rice, NMDDC’s youngest ever former chairperson at the age of just 22, said: “Vapes being sold to school children has been an issue that has been increasingly raised to me from concerned parents.
“Children as young as 13 or 14 have been gaining access to these products too easily. It is a problem on the rise that schools and parents have raised with me. In one instance a concerned parent had contacted me after her 13 year old son had been served in a store.”
He added: “There seemed to be no concern from the store owners about the repercussions of selling a licensed product to an under-age child.”
NMDDC is now due to co-operate with the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) to request it contacts shops owners.
The council’s Council Tobacco Control Officers (TCOs) will also carry out test purchasing exercises across the district to detect any illegal selling of vapes.
Councillor Rice added: “The reality is we need pro-actively educate shop owners, not just vape product stores. Every convenience store sells them and this is where the enforcement issues arise for council staff. Shop owners need to be provided with the information around the consequences in selling these products to under-age children. I also think shopkeeper’s need training in how to ask people for ID, as we know it can be confrontational at times.
“Vaping products have been advertised as an alternative to cigarettes. However, this logic fails when children are gaining easy access to them. I hope to work with council staff in trying to improve this issue, as I know many parents across the district share our concerns.”