Illegal vaping products 'aimed at children' seized in Middlesbrough crackdown
Illegal vaping products apparently targeting children have been seized in a major Middlesbrough-wide crackdown.
The six-week operation by Middlesbrough Council's Trading Standards team has seen thousands of potentially dangerous devices removed from sale.
Many had brightly coloured packaging and with flavours and names such as strawberry or banana milkshake, Unicorn Shake and Tiger Blood to appeal to children and young people.
It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, or for someone to purchase them on their behalf.
Some of the seized products had tank sizes up to three times the legal limit as well as incorrect labelling, with devices lacking information including sufficient health warnings or the details of a UK-based manufacturer or importer who can be contacted in the event of a safety issue.
In an attempt to avoid detection, some products did not display the nicotine content of the product.
The Trading Standards team were told by local shop owners that retailers are being approached by people selling the e-cigarettes from vans.
The investigation into the sale of illegal tobacco products is ongoing.
Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council's Head of Public Protection, said: "We will continue to work with local businesses to protect fair and lawful trading practices, to raise awareness of our concerns over illegal vaping products and advise them on how to avoid buying unsafe goods.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "Stamping out smoking is one of the best things we can do to improve public health, and legal vapes and e-cigarettes have played a major role in that fight in recent years.
"But they need to be as safe as they can be, and we need to protect children from unscrupulous traders.
"This is a fantastic operation by Trading Standards that sends out a clear message that retailers have a duty to protect their customers - and especially young people - from harmful products."
Middlesbrough retailers wanting advice on tobacco and product safety laws in relation to vaping products are advised to contact Trading Standards.