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Illegal UK Trading

Irresponsible vendors are undermining the benefit of less public smoking.

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Martin Dockrell, from Public Health England, gives open and candid opinions on the benefits of vaping. He mentions how smoke-free policies have contributed to the denormalisation of smoking, but to what extent does the irresponsible behaviour of some vendors undermine this?

In an interview, Dockrell says: “When PHE was first established, we adopted a temporary policy treating e-cigarettes as if they were smoked tobacco. After some careful thought and consultation however, we changed our policy. In contrast to the conclusive evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to secondhand smoke, there is no evidence of harm from exposure to secondhand e-cigarette vapour and the risks are likely to be extremely low.”

He speaks lucidly about the effect smoke-free policies have on homes, workplaces and local communities. He ponders on whether one aspect of banning smoking from certain venues is that the children of smokers cease to have those experiences.

He continues: “Smokefree policies have had a measurable impact on health but outdoor bans do not seem to deliver similar health benefits. The main health benefits of smokefree outdoor policies are likely to be from reduced youth uptake resulting from the “denormalisation” of smoking but this is hard to measure and harder still to tie to individual policies.”

If denormalisation is hard to measure then the same must go for renormalisation, a word loved by the anti-vaping lobby. What both sides of the debate will agree on is that underage electronic cigarette sales simple shouldn’t be taking place.

The Stoke Sentinel reports that a 16-yr old volunteer was sent into His & Hers Newsagents to attempt a purchase. The shop had been named as part of a previous operation into the sale of ecigs to under-18s. The volunteer managed to purchase vape products on two separate occasions.

The council’s investigations and consumer protection manager said the owner had “failed to run an adequate prevention system”. Furthermore, she added: “This has resulted in a total disregard for the licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder and, in particular, protecting children from harm.”

The owner, Mr Baljit Singh was caught in February, then again in September. At the time he claimed the teen must have stolen the eliquid.  This time, he said: “On that day, I had some things, family problems. Most of my staff were on holiday. I had work pressure, so that's why I did this mistake. Next time, I won't do it.”

But Singh isn’t alone. The Sun set up a similar sting operation covering the entire country recently, and discovered that a third of stores they sent children into were happy to supply vaping products to minors.

Linda Bauld, an advocate for vaping, is quoted as saying: “The Sun’s findings are extremely concerning. Any shops willing to sell these products to under-18s are openly flouting the law. It’s shocking, and totally irresponsible. While vaping is not as physically damaging as smoking, the oils can sometimes contain formaldehyde or heavy metals which are not good for developing lungs, and could contribute to respiratory conditions.”

Could a possible by-product of smoke-free legislation mean that it makes vaping teens more obvious in parks and streets? Do you think this is a problem?

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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