As many as 40 per cent of retailers in England targeted by Trading Standards are illegally selling electronic cigarettes to under-18s.
During an undercover operation by the body, 246 of the 634 retailers involved were found to be selling vaping devices to children aged 14 to 17 between January and March 2016.
In response to this, a report derived from the operation stated that compliance with the rules denying sales to those aged under 18 was disappointingly low.
Yet despite this, according to the British Retail Consortium, major retailers have rigorous policies and training in place to make sure they are obeying the legislation.
Although e-cigarettes are regarded as less harmful than cigarette smoke, which produces damaging substances like tar, the vapour in e-cigarettes still delivers a proportion of addictive nicotine and mimics the feel and look of smoking.
As of October 2015, selling e-cigarettes to under-18s was made illegal in England.
Funded by the Department of Health, the operation revealed that of the illegal sales, 68 per cent were made at markets and car boot sales throughout the country. There was also a large number of sales found at other premises including discount stores, independent pharmacies and specialist e-cigarette shops.
Premises used to selling age-restricted products (petrol station kiosks, convenience stores and news agents) were found to make the fewest sales to under aged buyers.
Although the results have been regarded as widely disappointing, Leon Livermore, chief executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, believes that it is important to consider them in context.
He 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. And these products are being sold in a wide variety of retailers and many of them will have little or no experience of challenging age restricted sales."
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