Shops could ban cash sales in bid to stop underage vaping

NHS Grampian has backed the proposals tabled by Aberdeen's Trading Standards team.

Shops in Aberdeen could ban cash sales in bid to stop underage vaping and smoking OLGA Zhukovskaya via Getty Images

Shops selling tobacco and vapes in Aberdeen could soon ban cash sales in a bid to stop age-restricted products getting in the hands of city youths.

The city council’s Trading Standards team believe action is needed to address the “growing issue” of proxy purchasing in the city.

Its officers work to enforce regulations and give advice to retailers, while also helping to seize illegal products in Aberdeen’s stores.

But, they have received an increase in complaints from both the public and retailers related to underage vape sales.

Proxy purchasing is when adults buy items such as vapes and cigarettes for those who are not old enough to legally buy them for themselves.

It is currently illegal to sell vapes and cigarettes to anyone aged under 18, however it is thought that children as young as 12 are getting access to the devices.

After being refused in a store, young people loitering outside will go on to ask passing adults to buy products instead, handing over cash in the process.

It is a criminal offence that can be enforced by Trading Standards, however it is hard to detect and prove when it is happening.

In the whole of Scotland, enforcement action for a proxy purchase has only occurred once in the last 13 years.

However, a new charter has been drawn up by Trading Standards that could help to stop this relatively new phenomenon.

As part of this, shops could put a stop to cash sales and only accept payment via card.

So far, each reported incident has involved young people giving an adult cash to buy products.

But, it is hoped the ban could prevent future proxy purchases from taking place.

Trading standard officers believe young people may not be so willing to hand over their bank cards to strangers as opposed to cash.

However, the issue is not a problem exclusive to Aberdeen, it is increasing across Scotland and the UK as a whole.

If this new charter helps to make a difference in the city, it could be rolled out across the country.

Councillors will be asked to give the charter the go-ahead next week.

If approved, it is expected to be in action by the end of September with an initial focus on stores in Union Street.

Police chiefs have supported the charter and welcome any attempt to curb the sale of vapes to youngsters.

Meanwhile, NHS Grampian has also backed the proposal and is “very supportive” of it.

The increasing use of vapes by young people has become a concern, with worries raised that that youngsters are becoming addicted to nicotine.

Colourful and flavoured vapes are attracting young people, however there is a worry that the devices will have a negative impact on their long-term health.

Aberdeen City Council has pledged its support to a ban on the single-use gadgets, claiming they were a “scourge” and “waste of precious resources”.

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