Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards team has seized £300,000 of illegal vapes and counterfeit tobacco products over the last year.

The crackdown is part of an ongoing initiative to deter retailers from selling vapes and other age-restricted goods to under-18s. The authority continues to inspect businesses and enforces measures to prevent under-age sales.

Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, county council cabinet lead for regulatory services which includes Trading Standards, said: "Parents are rightly concerned about their children having access to vapes following an alarming rise in vaping by young people.

"The vast majority of traders in Hampshire act within the law but we are putting more resource into catching the irresponsible minority whose actions put people at risk. Our Trading Standards team has ramped up activity to clamp down on illegal and underage sales and, as a result, we have seized large amounts of illegal vapes that breached the legal limit of nicotine or that were sold illegally to underage people.

"We have also seized pouches of counterfeit tobacco which are not subject to the usual manufacturing standards and could contain any substances. This haul of 15,000 contraband items has been kept out of the hands of consumers and will now be destroyed. This is a great result that underscores our commitment to keeping people in Hampshire safe."

The team routinely conducts spot checks by sending young volunteers on purchasing operations to test if retailers comply with legal age restrictions. Upon finding a business selling to underage customers or trafficking illegal items, action is taken, potentially leading to criminal prosecution.

People wishing to report illegal or underage sales of cigarettes and vapes are encouraged to contact the Hampshire Trading Standards directly.