‘No e-cigarettes for you, children, whatever the law may be,’ say Herts retailers

An adult smoking an e-cigarette
An adult smoking an e-cigarette

A recent investigation by Public Health England and the Trading Standards Institute into retailers that sell e-cigarettes to young people shows that none of Hertfordshire’s tested retailers sold e-cigarettes to under-18s.

Hertfordshire Trading Standards officers carried out 19 visits as part of the study, but none of these resulted in sales.

This meant that the Eastern region - which also covers five other counties - was the only area in the study to achieve a zero per cent purchase rate.

Where retailers refused a sale, reasons included refusal following a proof of age request or outright refusal to serve a young person.

Whilst there is currently no legal restriction placed on the age at which e-cigarettes may be sold, the majority of these products carry a voluntary age warning that they are not for sale to under 18s.

Herts County Council’s cabinet member for community safety and planning Richard Thake said: “We are very pleased that Hertfordshire performed so well in this study, it is real testament to the excellent partnership working between our Public Health and Trading Standards colleagues to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of Hertfordshire’s young people is protected.

“Our Trading Standards officers have worked extremely closely with businesses in Hertfordshire to provide training and education on age restricted products.

“Many products do not contain a voluntary age warning so we have raised awareness of the issue so that retailers are aware of their legal responsibilities.”

Cabinet member for public health and localism Teresa Heritage said: “E-cigarettes can have a real benefit to help people give up smoking.

“However, we are also very aware of concerns about young people’s access to these products so we are committed to managing the risks and ensuring effective regulation.”

New powers in the Children and Families Act 2014 will allow for the introduction of a ban on selling e-cigarettes to under-18s, regulations that are subject to future consultation.

This study was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) to assist this work.