East Renfrewshire Council's proactive approach to stopping young people from buying harmful cigarettes and vaping products is having a positive impact.
Published: 20 February 2020
The Council's Trading Standards team regularly carry out test purchasing at shops across the area to ensure cigarettes and nicotine vaping products are not sold to underage residents.
Test purchasing relies on young volunteers visiting shops and attempting to buy age-restricted products. The retailer should then ask the volunteer for ID, and when they are unable to supply it, should then be refused the sale. If a retailer fails to request ID and makes a sale, they can be subject to enforcement actions.
As part of a targeted approach to checking local retailers' challenge 25 age verification policies, Trading Standards carried out testing purchasing across the authority in 2019.
Volunteers aged between 20 and 21 visited 72 retailers, with 46% failing to ask for identification, and allowed them to make a purchase.
Trading Standards officers then worked with these retailers to educate them on the importance of having a robust under 25 age verification policy in place and provided training to ensure they became complaint, preventing formal enforcement action and prosecution.
A follow-up test purchase was then carried out at these premises, this time with volunteers aged under 18, with a 100% pass rate achieved.
Councillor Alan Lafferty, Convener for Environment said: 'Tobacco and nicotine vaping products have been found to be the most common form of harm to young people, so I am pleased that our Trading Standards team have been working hard to ensure all retailers operating in East Renfrewshire understand the importance of age verification policies. Improving the pass rate to 100% with this rigorous testing programme is a fantastic result, however, I would encourage anyone who believes a retailer is selling age restricted products to young people to report it to Trading Standards via Advice Direct Scotland by calling 0808 800 9060 so we can continue to keep our young people safe.'