Pharmacies selling e-cigarettes illegally

Vape pen

Pharmacies are making illegal sales of e-cigarettes and vaping liquids to people under the age of 18, according to a report published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute

The report is a review of tests carried out by trading standards services in England between January and March 2016. A total of 634 illegal sales attempts were made by volunteers aged 14–17; overall, 39% of these sales attempts were successful.

Overall, independent pharmacies made illegal sales to underage people in 53% of attempts, whereas national chain pharmacies made illegal sales in 43% of attempts. The worst rate of underage sales was at market stalls and car boot sales, at 68%. 

In independent pharmacies, 15 illegal sales attempts were made, 8 of which were successful. Meanwhile, at national chain pharmacies, 14 attempts were made, 6 of which were successful. 

Illegal sales of e-cigarettes violate regulations introduced in October 2015 bringing age restrictions on nicotine-containing products into line with those on tobacco. 

The report says that outlets that are more accustomed to the sale of age-restricted products, such as mobile phone stores, national newsagents and petrol station kiosks, were the least likely to make illegal sales, with rates of 18%, 20% and 27%, respectively.

In response to the findings, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) says that all pharmacy staff should be aware of the need to verify the age of young customers buying nicotine-containing products and pharmacies should have policies in place to prevent illegal sales. 

The NPA adds that retailers can be fined up to £2,500 for sales of e-cigarette products to underage people.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, August 2016, Vol 297, No 7892;297(7892):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201592

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