Concerns raised after South Tyneside officials remove 1,500 'illegal' vaping and e-cigarette products from shelves in a year
A crackdown on "potentially unsafe" vaping products targeted at children has seen 1,500 taken off shelves in South Tyneside in the last year.
South Tyneside Council’s (STC) trading standards department said the issue was “very high” on its agenda, involving an education campaign and work with schools.
Vaping products are typically sold in brightly coloured packaging with a variety of flavours and names, such as Pink Lemonade, Cola, Lemon Sherbet and Banana Ice.
The 1,500 products seized over the past 12 months were “illegal in relation to their design, labelling and nicotine content” or had not been properly registered with regulators, according to local authority reports.
“A lot of people don’t realise how addictive they really are, how much nicotine is still in them,” Bede ward borough councillor Stephen Dean told latest meeting of STC’s Licensing and Regulatory Services Committee, which also heard about the impact vaping can have on children and minors.
“I’ve been on buses, you see kids using them and saying ‘have you tried this new banana one, it’s brilliant’.
“It’s amazing how addictive they’ve become, my big worry is it’s going to get really out of hand, so I’m pleased to see that it’s going to be a thing they go in on for sure.”
According to council chiefs, 1,500 vapes were seized from specialised e-cigarette retailers, as well as "small general dealer type of seller” and followed previous local authority advice to retailers on compliance.
Cllr Alexander Donaldson, who represents Cleadon Park, stressed the council should be emphasising concerns around children and vaping.
He said: “Children getting a hold of vaping products, which may lead to smoking as well, is the sort of thing that concerns everybody.”
James Maughan, the council’s service lead for community protection, insisted vaping was treated as a priority due to age restrictions on the product.
He said: “I can assure the committee, although I can’t give details, that it is very high on the trading standards agenda.
“Operations have been carried out with regard to underge sales of vaping products, I can’t say anymore than that.”
He added the council is preparing to launch an education campaign on vaping and the potential issues associated with the habit.
Cllr Margaret Peacock added she had concerns over how vapes and e-cigarettes are “obviously produced to be attractive for children”.
The issue has previously provoked debate in South Tyneside, with one councillor previously comparing tobacco and vaping to a choice between “sharks” and “man-eating piranhas”.