04 October 2019

Enforcement action to tackle tobacco and vaping sales

Aberdeenshire Council's Trading Standards are to undertake a programme of enforcement action in relation to tobacco and nicotine vaping products (NVP).

The programme will comprise advice and information to those selling tobacco and NVP, including the maintenance of a register of retailers and the prevention of sales to those under 18 years of age.

Over the coming year, Trading Standards officers will also undertake inspection and surveillance when required of premises from which tobacco and NVP are sold including through social media channels.

The local authority's Infrastructure Services Committee which met on Thursday, October 3 also approved council-operated test-purchasing exercises throughout Aberdeenshire using volunteers who are a minimum of 16 years of age.

Councillors endorsed a programme of raising awareness of the legislation, particularly as it applies to purchases of tobacco by persons under 18 years of age and by members of the public proxy purchasing on behalf of persons under 18 years of age.

The introduction of the programme will ensure that Aberdeenshire meets its duty in terms of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, to carry out a programme of enforcement action, in respect of tobacco, at least once every 12 months.
Aberdeenshire Council is required to make an annual return to the Scottish Government on its enforcement activities and the level of complaints and problems regarding underage sales of tobacco. 

Legislation prohibits sales of cigarettes and NVP to under 18 year olds and the purchasing of cigarettes and NVP on behalf of under 18 year olds otherwise known as 'proxy purchasing'.

During the 12-month period to April 2019, Aberdeenshire Trading Standards conducted 82 Inspections to registered retailers of tobacco and NVP.

In the same period, with the assistance of 16-year-old volunteers, staff conducted 25 test purchase exercises, resulting in five failures with non-compliant premises being issued with warnings or fixed penalty notices. Non-compliant retailers will also be the subject of re-visits.

Chair of the council's Infrastructure Services Committee, Councillor Peter Argyle, said afterwards: "It is vital that we, as a responsible local authority, undertake these enforcement actions to protect our communities and, in particular, our young people.

"We are very fortunate in Aberdeenshire that the vast majority of retailers selling tobacco and nicotine vaping products are doing so legally. However, I would urge anyone who has concerns over the illegal sale of such products - be it across the counter or through online sites - to contact our Trading Standards officers."

Committee vice-chair Councillor John Cox said: "Most people here wouldn’t dream of buying tobacco for young people, but for those who do, we want to challenge the attitudes and assumptions behind this behaviour. 

"You are most certainly not doing our young people any favours and you can also be fined if you get caught.”