An investigation by ITV News has shown that a third of outlets we tested sold e-cigarettes to a 17-year-old.
ITV News' Health Editor Catherine Jones looks at the rise of e-cigarettes and the health debate surrounding the new smoking aid.
The makers of the tobacco alternative say their devices could help save lives. The problems is that regulations have failed to keep up.
Two-thirds of Britons would support a change to the law which would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to those aged under 18, according to an ITV News poll carried out by ComRes.
It is currently legal to sell e-cigarettes - which contain nicotine - to under 18s although there is a voluntary code in place by the retail industry for them not to do so.
ComRes asked 2,055 people whether they would "support or oppose a change in the law to make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, to under 18-year-olds." The results were:
- 66% support a change in the law to make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to under 18s.
- 16% said they opposed the change, which would leave the voluntary code in place.
- 17% said they did not know.
Levels of support for a change in the law was similar between parents with children under the age of 18 (68%) and those without children of that age (66%), the poll found.
E-cigarettes have the potential to save "hundreds of millions of lives" by cutting smoking rates, a group of scientists have claimed in a letter to the World Health Organisation.
The experts want to make sure e-cigarettes are not classified in the same way as tobacco products such as cigarettes.
Such a move could lead to restrictive measures including higher taxes, bans on e-cigarette advertising and restrictions on their use in public places.
Their letter reads: "These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century - perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them as tobacco products should be resisted."
A group of 53 leading scientists has written to the World Health Organisation (WHO) urging the body not to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
The experts say e-cigarettes are "part of the solution" in the fight against smoking-related diseases and their use should not be discouraged.
Leaked documents from a WHO meeting suggest the organisation sees e-cigarettes as a "threat" and wants them bracketed along with other products containing nicotine, including regular cigarettes.
A Government health agency has denied claims from e-cigarette company E-Lites that it has proposed a ban on smoking electronic cigarettes in public.
Public Health England said:
– Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director Health and Wellbeing, PHE
We have not called for a ban on e-cigarette use in public spaces. PHE is working with our partners to consider the options for supporting safe use of e-cigarettes to reduce harm and support smokers to quit, some of which were discussed by our Board in February.
A Department of Health spokesperson said:
There are no current plans to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.
Government officials have proposed that the Department of Health considers a ban on smoking electronic cigarettes in public places in England.
The suggestion, made in a Public Health England board meeting in February, recommended that e-cigarettes should be prohibited in "workplaces, educational and public places" to prevent "normalising smoking".
It is the first time such a policy is believed to have been mentioned in an official Government document.
The proposal could form part of Public Health England's tobacco strategy, set to be finalised next month, and be recommended to the Department of Health.
Public Health England has discussed banning electronic cigarettes from all public spaces in England, a leading e-cigarette company has said.
The director of one of the UK's biggest e-cigarette companies has called warnings about health problems associated with the products are "baseless nonsense".
Charles Hamshaw-Thomas, legal and corporate affairs director at E-Lites, said:
""Study after study is showing that scaremongering that e-cigarettes are luring people into tobacco is baseless nonsense. The reverse is going on - smokers are switching into e-cigarettes as the way to reduce the harm from tobacco."