An operation by Plymouth City Council Trading Standards found that six out of the seven shops visited sold multiple bottles of e-liquid containing nicotine to a 16-year-old volunteer.
The team sent the young test purchaser to visit seven Plymouth shops and was sold e-liquid in six of the stores.
Trading Standards regularly carry out test purchasing exercises to check that traders comply with their responsibility to protect children. They have written to all of the businesses that failed to remind them of the law, and to let them know that any further failure could result in a criminal prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court.
Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “Clearly this is concerning. It is important that all retailers have procedures in place to ensure that they do not break the law. Vaping products should not be sold to children because they contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.”
The courts can impose a fine of up to £2,500 on business owners and shop staff who illegally sell vaping products to those who are underage.
Trading Standards advises sellers of all age-restricted goods to always ask for proof of age if they are at all unsure about the age of a prospective buyer.
It is good practice to operate a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy to make sure that you know that your customers can legally purchase restricted products.
Any trader who wants advice on age restricted products can contact Trading Standards, and a free online training toolkit is available on request to Plymouth traders to ensure that they know how to prevent unauthorised sales.