Vapes being sold on TikTok Shop 'to under 18s' disguised as stationery

ITV News has found evidence vapes are being sold on TikTok shop, with accounts appearing to target under-18s, ITV News Trainee Olivia Mustafa reports

An ITV News investigation has found TikTok Shop accounts have been selling vapes, appearing to be targeted at children, by disguising them as stationery.

One seller advertised a mystery box of stationery on the app’s e-commerce platform using images of mugs, notebooks and pens.

But a size selection dropdown menu on the listing reveals that it is actually vapes on sale, with the menu listing flavours and numbers - which appear to refer to the number of ‘puffs’ each vape contained.

A TikTok account linked to the shop promised "no ID verification" on their user page, where they created videos about the vapes they sold.

We created an account on TikTok posing as a 14-year-old. When we left a comment asking if any ID was needed to complete the purchase, another customer - who appeared to be under the age of 18 - said it was not necessary.

It took just a few clicks before we were able to order a vape, which arrived in the post three days later. A valid form of ID confirming we were over the age of 18 was not requested at any stage.

ITV News saw examples of the account reassuring seemingly underage customers that orders would be sent with discreet postage, and claiming no identification checks were necessary.

One user left a comment asking if packaging had any mention of vapes.

The seller responded: “We use envelopes with name and address, it does not include any information about the product. It’s discreet, no ID required.”

The minimum age to purchase a vape in the UK is 18 years old, whether in-store or from online retailers. It is illegal to sell them to those who are underage. Selling vapes on TikTok Shop is also banned.

Figures from the TikTok Shop’s page showed the account had sold a total of 1,100 products, with more than 3,000 reviews.

The seller encouraged customers to avoid posting photos in their reviews of the shop in an apparent bid to avoid a ban, but ITV News found several reviews containing photos of vapes.

TikTok Shop was launched in September 2023 and allows creators to promote and sell products through the app. According to their guidelines, selling e-cigarettes and nicotine products is prohibited.

ITV News approached TikTok for comment. The social media giant said the account had now been taken down and referred to its community guidelines.

A spokesperson said: “We strictly prohibit content that depicts or promotes the sale, trade or offer of tobacco, including vaping products.

“To be clear, no user of any age should be seeing this content.”

The TikTok account linked to the shop was contacted, but did not respond.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…