Shops are flouting a new law by continuing to sell e-cigarettes to under-18s.
Trading standards chiefs in the borough today sounded a warning to businesses which ignore the legislation introduced last October that they face hefty fines if they do not desist.
The local authority revealed it had been sending minors into shops undercover to find out whether stores are obeying the new adult-only rules and discovered several that weren’t.
The new law applies to nicotine inhaling products, which includes e-cigarettes, refil cartridges and e-liquids, although certain medical products will be exempt.
Businesses breaking it could be fined up to £2,500.
The legislation also makes it an offence for an adult to buy or attempt to buy tobacco, cigarette papers or e-cigarettes on behalf of a person under 18 years of age. This is known as proxy purchasing and offenders could fined or receive an on the spot penalty of £90.
Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for the environment, said: “These test-purchasing results have been very disappointing, particularly as Wigan Trading Standards Officers have already done a lot of work with businesses who sell e-cigarettes by providing advice on how to avoid underage sales, as well as posters to display in their shops. Robust enforcement action will be taken by Trading Standards against those business who continue selling e-cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18.”
Terry Gregson, trading standards manager, said: “We would encourage all retailers of e-cigarettes is to be vigilant and responsible when selling e-cigarettes and e-liquid products. Retailers should apply the same checks they would apply to the sale of any other age restricted products, such as alcohol and cigarettes to anyone who looks under 18.
“We strongly advise shopkeepers to make sure they ask for proof of age from anyone who looks under 25. Businesses should regularly use a refusals register when individuals attempt to buy e-cigarettes in order to record the event.”