An angry Wigan mum has accused an e-cigarette shop of selling equipment to under-age teens and reported it to the authorities.
Tracey Cartwright, from Beech Hill, said she found a vapouriser which had been bought for her son by a friend – even though the lads were both only 14.
The friend had previously been into the Wigan shop and bought the equipment for himself, she claims.
She has now reported the matter to Trading Standards at Wigan Council and the town hall has assured residents it treats all allegations of this nature with the utmost seriousness.
Tracey said far more needs to be done to constrain the activities of vaping shops, accusing the industry and society of underplaying the danger of using e-cigarettes and making it appear attractive to young people through colourful advertising and branding.
She said: “I was shocked when I found the vapouriser. I only found out because I looked at my son’s phone.
“They had only just got it so thankfully he had only tried it and hadn’t used it properly.
“I took the e-cigarette back to the shop they had got it from. They initially denied they had been selling to someone under-age but then offered me a full refund.
“Vaping shops are opening up all over Wigan and they should be doing Challenge 25. I just think kids don’t realise what they are doing.
“It’s an addiction. It’s not any better than smoking, they are supposed to be an aid to stop people smoking but they have got addicted to e-cigarettes instead.
“It’s just crazy. I think some of these shops are targeting the younger generation. Some of them have X-Boxes in there. They think using e-cigarettes is cool and hard, and it’s not.
“People are walking round shops vaping. You wouldn’t be able to have a cigarette in a shop.”
Trading Standards, which is responsible for ensuring items prohibited to under-age shoppers do not end up in their hands, says it will act to get to the bottom of any complaints of this nature received.
Julie Middlehurst, service manager for regulatory services at Wigan Council, said: “Any complaints we receive of this nature are taken very seriously and we will always look to investigate where necessary.”
Tracey says she has also alerted her son’s secondary school and asked them to speak to police about it if appropriate.
It is illegal for retailers to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 and fines running into thousands of pounds can be imposed on anyone found guilty of doing so.
However, someone under-age vaping is not committing a crime themselves.
Although it is widely believed that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking for young people, Public Health England (PHE) says there is little evidence of this and most regular vapers are those who previously smoked.