A PROBE is underway after allegations that a store sold highly addictive vapes to a 12-year-old autistic schoolgirl.
The youngster’s father discovered the age-restricted item hidden in the child’s bedroom – and was stunned to find she had been able to use his pocket money to buy them.
Officers from Trading Standards have confirmed they have launched an investigation into the practices of the USave store in Cardowan in North Lanarkshire, after a complaint was lodged against the company by the furious father.
Contacted by the Glasgow Times, branch bosses admitted they had been visited by consumer watchdogs, but said measures were now in place to prevent the illegal sale of items subject to a limit. age like vapes or alcohol.
The father-of-three told the Glasgow Times: “I feel sick to the pit of my stomach that my little girl has been able to access what is essentially a toxic chemical that people are getting addicted to.
“I had absolutely no idea what was going on until I found the vape in her room. I was shocked and when I asked her, she told me that all her friends used vapes and that they could buy them locally.
” I could not believe it. My daughter has autism and the mental age of a seven or eight year old. She doesn’t understand the impact these things can have on her health.
“It’s very concerning that schoolchildren have such free access to it, and from what my daughter tells me, it’s becoming a big problem among young people. These vapes sell for £6-8 and she says many of her friends save their money to buy them.
“I am appalled at what is happening and think a lot of parents need to be more vigilant.”
The legal age in Scotland to buy a vape or e-liquids is 18. In addition to replacing cigarettes among adults, nicotine sticks have become a concern among those under 18.
Data from a recent study by the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that the number of children who had tried vaping was 16% of those surveyed – and this figure is believed to be rising.
Although electronic cigarettes are considered a much safer alternative to tobacco, they are still potentially dangerous to the health of the user. Experts also fear that some of the products on sale in the UK are illegal and contain banned chemicals or super potent nicotine.
The father claims his daughter, whose identity we are protecting, has been suffering from a bad cough and headache since quitting smoking.
He said: ‘Before I found out what was going on, I noticed she had a bad cough for a few weeks. I joked with a family member that it sounded like a smoker’s cough – now I know that’s exactly what it was.
“God knows how many vapes she’s used in the past 10 months, and I’m worried about the impact this might have on her long-term well-being.
“I sat my daughter down and told her how addictive it could be, and she promised never to go near it again.
“Kids feel peer pressure to use them, but they don’t realize that these products still contain nicotine. I think the age limit for buying them should be raised to 25 instead of 18 and there needs to be more serious deterrents so that kids can’t get them.
“I speak up to warn other parents. Traders must take responsibility for ensuring that young people do not have access to something that can harm their health.
A USave branch spokesperson said they require valid identification to be displayed before items such as vapes or alcohol are sold to anyone whose age may be uncertain. .
They added: ‘We can confirm that Trading Standards have visited the store and that stickers have been put up in the store stating that age restricted products will not be sold without presenting a valid ID.
“Staff have been made aware of this and we will ensure that the products are never sold to people under the age limit in the future. We have also heard of children buying vapes from people over the age of 18 in the community.
“This is a growing problem that needs to be tackled by educating young people in school about the negative effects of smoking on our health.
A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: ‘Our trading standards team has received a complaint and will investigate.
We’ve already told how an employee of an Easterhouse store was fired for selling vapes to a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
Trading Standards officers visited the Wellhouse store after a complaint was made by the teenager’s parent. The mum told The Glasgow Times how she found dozens of vapes in her daughter’s bedroom – and was furious to find some had been sold to her at the local store.
Newhills Newsagents owner Abdul Wajid said at the time that the employee responsible for supplying the vapes had been removed, adding: “We take this type of accusation very seriously and we do not support or do not tolerate the sale of items subject to age restrictions minors minors.
“The manager has been removed from his position and no longer works at the store.”