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.