Callington Police are cracking down on the number of people under the age of 18 who are in possession of, attempting to purchase or using adults to purchase vapes and e-cigarettes on their behalf.

Police have seen a recent surge in the number of children in possession of vapes and e-cigarettes and have even received reports from a local primary school, in addition to local secondary schools, that have had to confiscate them from pupils.

Police are asking residents of Callington and the Tamar Valley to be aware that the minimum age to buy products containing nicotine is 18, including vapes and e-cigarettes, and have issued stark reminders through their social media channels that it is also illegal for adults to buy, or be found attempting to buy tobacco or vapes for anyone under the age of 18.

PC Jess Floyd of Callington Police said: ‘Our recent social media posts were shared as a result of having to deal with two teenagers trying their luck and attempting to purchase e-cigarettes from a shop in the town centre that day. When their efforts failed, they took to canvasing adults on the street, asking them to purchase these products for them. This is not the first time - this has been going on for a couple of weeks now.

‘Generally we don’t have to deal with incidents like this directly very often, instead we find that other people are reporting information to us such as local schools. We have had incidents of a local primary school informing us that they have had to confiscate a vape or e-cigarette from a student there but I must stress this has happened no more than twice. Receiving calls from shops in town is a regular occurrence. It may be the case that children are asking an adult, a cousin or brothers and sisters of age to buy vapes for them too.

‘We have the power to seize any tobacco products from under 18s as well as the right to search someone if we believe they have such products on them, for example, if we see them in use and they are then quickly concealed. This has happened a few times on our patrols around the town since the New Year — this will then be followed up with a phone call to parents, with confiscated vapes then sent for destruction.’

PC Floyd has also encouraged people to consider the health implications of using such products, adding: ‘Whilst vaping products can appear attractive to young people with the array of colours and flavours, they still contain harmful and addictive substances. We still don’t know the full effects these products can have even if they were originally designed as an alternative to help people stop smoking. Marketing campaigns can make vaping look trendy or it may seem like a safe alternative to smoking, yet starting to vape may have the opposite effect in leading young people to smoking.’

Dangers to health and a lack of long-term data in regards to the effects of these products’ use have been arguments at the forefront of debates which surround vapes and e-cigarettes, with local police’s concern being expressed not two weeks after some major supermarkets across the UK removed Elf Bars — a highly popular brand of disposable vapes — from their shelves after an investigation concluded that many were recently found to contain ‘illegal’ nicotine levels. This investigation, carried out by a national tabloid paper, found that the watermelon flavour contained at least 50% more than the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid in the UK. Elf Bars have remained off some retailers’ shelves as investigations into their contents continue.

PC Floyd said: ‘I’d like to think our actions will make an impact, however a lot of this centres on education, which starts at home and in school. We encourage parents and guardians to have a frank and open conversation with their children. Primary and secondary schools in the area are doing their best to educate pupils too. There is also a wealth of information online to help with this.

‘I would like to stress that we are aware this is not an issue restricted or specific to Callington.’