Prime Minister’s visit kickstarts summer of crackdowns on illegal vapes across Kent

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak standing next to the Leader of KCC Roger Gough

Kent Trading Standards officers will be targeting illegal vape products designed to entice children in a series of enforcement operations throughout the summer. It follows a visit to Kent by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who saw first-hand the colourful designs that are being directly marketed at those under the age restriction to purchase.

The Prime Minister visited Kent Scientific Services (KSS) site at West Malling and was shown a trailblazing laboratory test, developed by KSS Scientist Punil Sanatcumar, analysing the dangerous ingredient levels in vapes which are being imported and getting into the hands and lungs of those under 18.

The visit was an opportunity to focus on the actions being taken to tackle the problem of underage sales, and Mr Sunak promised to close the legal loophole, which allows retailers to give away free samples to children.

Head of Trading Standards Steve Rock, who spoke to the Prime Minister and the government’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty, welcomed the move.

He said: “Over the next few weeks, we will be carrying out targeted enforcement activity to crack down on these child-appealing novelty products and those aimed at younger people, and our officers will be in a number of locations across Kent. This is part of the ongoing successful work we were able to show the Prime Minister at KSS, which includes seizing these illegal vapes at the ports.”

Brightly coloured and packaged vape products lined up on a table

The brightly-coloured packaging  of these illegals vape products is designed to appeal to teenagers

Speaking in Kent, Mr Sunak said: “I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in kids vaping and shocked by reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of school children. "My daughters are 10 and 12, and I don't want the way vapes are marketed, promoted and sold to be attractive to them.”

KCC Leader Roger Gough said: "Both Kent Trading Standards and KSS are at the forefront of protecting the health and safety of Kent residents in ways that are not necessarily obvious. I am delighted that their efforts in the sale of dangerous and illegal vapes has been recognised at this high level."

To report illicit vapes, illegal tobacco or underage sales to Kent Trading Standards, contact the charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively, complete the simple online form at Crimestoppers – 100% anonymously.