Almost four in ten test purchases of nicotine inhaling products made by Trading standards in England were illegal according to the first rapid review of the market.

The review is the first since the introduction of the nicotine inhaling products (age of sale and proxy purchasing) Regulations 2015, which came into force from 1 October 2015.  The regulations prohibit sales to under 18 year olds except under certain circumstances.

A total of 634 compliance tests were conducted between January and March 2016 by Trading Standards services and coordinated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute ("CTSI").

The report  reveals that compliance with the regulations was disappointingly low with illegal sales made on 246 occasions which is a failure rate of 39%. Businesses tested ranged from independent pharmacies, specialist e-cigarette suppliers, discount stores and markets. A variety of products were purchased including e-liquids. 

Leon Livermore, CTSI Chief Executive said "More than 2.5 million adults use electronic cigarettes and evidence suggests the products are now the most popular quitting aid for smokers in England.

Although regular use among children is relatively rare, children's awareness of and experimentation with electronic cigarettes is increasing. Trading Standards teams play a frontline role in preventing children from obtaining e-cigarettes and nicotine refills. They provide guidance to help retailers comply with the law, but will not hesitate to take enforcement action where it is appropriate to do so."

All businesses who sell age-restricted products should ensure that staff and managers are fully aware of the age limits of the products they sell. Good, clear training and policies are key to compliance.