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BBC Whips Up Fear Following Report Release

The latest report from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute says 40% of targeted stores are illegally selling vape products to underage buyers

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The BBC is guilty of whipping up fears of a “teen epidemic” following a recent report by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. It claims almost 40% of stores are illegally selling vape products to underage buyers. What is being forgotten are the true facts surrounding teen vaping in the U.K.

Trading Standards say 90 out of 227 premises tested illegally sold products to under-age teenagers over the last year, according to data supplied by 34 councils. This equates to a rise of 12%. Over half of these illegal sales are reported to have been made by specialised B&M vape stores.

Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, used the report to call for greater funding for his organisation: “I'd say to the government, 'If you want your policies delivered effectively, you need to provide appropriate funding and resources through to the front line’.”

While the daytime ‘Victoria’  television show might want viewers to get worried about teen use, ASH UK’s recent study found that such fears are overblown.

ASH found:

  • More than three quarters of 11-18 year olds have never tried or are unaware of e-cigarettes
  • Young people vape mainly just to give it a try (52.4%) not because they think it looks cool (1.0%)
  • 15.4% of 11-18 year olds had tried vaping, compared to 16.0% last year
  • 1.6% of 11-18 year olds use e-cigarettes more than once a week
  • Vaping is much less common among young people who have never smoked
  • Of young people aged 11-18 years old who have never smoked, 5.5% have ever tried
  • e-cigarettes, 0.8% are current vapers, only 0.1% vape more than once a week,
  • Not a single never-smoker teen reported vaping daily

ASH said at launch: “In conclusion, data from the 2019 ASH YouGov Smokefree youth GB survey suggest that while some young people, particularly those who have tried smoking, experiment with e-cigarettes, regular use remains low.”

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) responded to the Trading Standards report: "Products should never be marketed or sold to under-18s. We expect the highest standards from our members to show leadership to the rest of the industry. We also expect our members to make sure that products are not designed to appeal specifically to anyone under 18 years old."

Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control for Public Health England, commented:  "There is no evidence that flavours are leading kids who don't smoke into vaping, but there is evidence that they are part of what helps smokers to switch. There is widespread academic and clinical consensus that while not without risk, vaping is far less harmful than smoking."


  • Chartered Trading Standards Institute 18/19 report (not published online at time of writing) - [link]
  • ASH UK report into teen use – [link]
  • How safe is the BBC, POTV – [link]
  • “Young People's Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015-2017”, Bauld, MacKintosh, Eastwood et al – [link]
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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