Is social media creating a vaping craze among underage buyers?
Ben Hardy and Sophie Wyatt
- Credit: Ben Hardy
Social media platforms are among the factors fueling a desperate need for city kids to get their hands on vapes, retailers have said.
Apps are often cited as the reason for purchases, bosses have revealed, with the habit now becoming "fashionable".
It comes after 40 vapes were stolen in the space of a week at a convenience store in Sprowston.
Ashraf Mohammad, manager of Ye Olde Vape Shoppe in Castle Meadow, said: "I do not use social media but my friends do and that's often where they find out about new vapes on the market.
"I have customers ask for certain brands I have not heard of and that seems to be from social media. It seems like a fashion."
Disposable vapes contain 20mg of nicotine – the maximum legal amount in the UK.
The sweetness of vapes is also appealing to youngsters with flavours such as well-known sweet brands, as well as fizzy drinks and even ice lollies.
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Mr Mohammad said: "The disposable vapes are overloaded with sweetness which is growing that appeal and making people want them more.
"I think that there should be more measures put into place. There should be more information and advertising targeted towards younger people."
Ye Olde Vape Shoppe has a booth in Castle Quarter however the stock now has to be moved into the Castle Meadow shop overnight due to thefts.
A staff member on the booth, who did not wish to be named, said: "It is certainly a craze and anything underage customers are not supposed to have seems to make it that more appealing to them.
"All the flavours and pretty colours creates that interest as well."
The legal age to buy a vape is 18.
Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards provides staff with a refusals notebook where they log descriptions of underage people who have tried to buy a vape.
Norwich's Time2Vape manager, Tom Goulding, said: "You see a lot of 18 and 19-year-olds who have seen vapes all over social media and have never smoked in their lives.
"I tend to inform people that are pretty new to it but no one really asks because people are so addicted.”