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Underage vape sales ‘major problem’ in Caerphilly

Vape (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

UNDERAGE vape sales are a “major problem” in Caerphilly County Borough and across the UK, a council officer has said.

Two underage test purchase operations took place last year, in relation to both alcohol and e-cigarettes.

Out of 25 attempted purchases, five resulted in a sale to an underage volunteer. Those selling vapes to underage shoppers could receive a fine of up to £2,500.

At an environment and sustainability committee meeting on Tuesday June 13, members were presented an update, in line with its Public Protection Enforcement Policy.

Labour councillor Shane Williams questioned why only two operations took place, despite the council receiving a high number of complaints about the issue of vapes.

During 2022/2023, the council received 55 complaints – five in relation to alcohol, one relating to tobacco, and 39 relating to vaping products.

Jacqui Morgan, trading standards, licensing and registrars manager at the council, said new volunteers had to be trained following the pandemic, which meant operations only recommenced in December last year.

She added that 16 operations had taken place since April.

Ms Morgan said: “It’s a major concern, and in England they have given additional resources to do more test purchases, there hasn’t been any funding in Wales.”

The sale of illegal tobacco is also an issue, over the past year 9,800 illegal cigarettes were seized and two premises in Caerphilly are currently being investigated.

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Cllr Nigel Dix said CCTV cameras should be used more to prosecute criminals. He said: “I really appreciate [that] the cameras are there, but they are very expensive and we pay people to watch them.”

The council’s CCTV system has more than 170 cameras covering 28 towns and villages across the borough.

The report presented to the committee said the CCTV control room does refer incidents and suspicious behaviour directly to Gwent Police.

Cllr Dix also said there is an increase in shops advertising drug paraphernalia such as “bongs” in their windows on Blackwood high street.

Food safety 

The report also revealed the number of written warnings or advice given to premises in relation to food health safety had increased considerably over the past year.

In 2021/22, 175 warnings were handed out, this increased to 856 in 2022/23.

The number of revisits also increased from 61 to 77 over the past year.

Dog fouling and fly-tipping

The amount of warnings about dog fouling had increased from three in 2021/22, to 26 in 2022/23.

This could be explained by the council’s decision to ban dogs from marked sports pitches in March 2022.

One fixed penalty for dog fouling was handed out both in 2021/22, and 2022/23, a drop from four fixed penalties in 2020/21.

In 2022/23, 27 fixed penalties for fly-tipping were issued and 23 for littering. Additionally, there were ten prosecutions for fly-tipping.