BARNSLEY is one of the worst-impacted places for youngsters seeking to buy illegal vapes in the country, new research has uncovered.

The study, which analysed monthly Google searches for illegal vapes by using banned varieties to cross-reference searches by location, put Barnsley eighth in the national list.

The town had an average monthly search volume of 262 per 100,000 people, with frequent searches for ‘Crystal Pro Max’, which accounts for 117 of Barnsley’s vape searches.

It’s illegal to sell vapes containing more than 2ml of e-liquid in the UK, however addictive vapes containing more than 15 times the legal limit have been found following raids in Barnsley and its South Yorkshire neighbours.

A Barnsley Council scrutiny panel, which met earlier in the spring to discuss what is being done locally to combat the rise, confirmed councillors are working alongside South Yorkshire Police and officers from Trading Standards.

The Chronicle can reveal that councillors have also been shown seized, illicit vapes in order to gain a better understanding of what to look out for.

A report said: “Trading Standards’ officers gave the group an overview of their work such as ensuring consumer protection, business compliance, seizing non-compliant products as well as undertaking prosecutions.

“The group welcomed work undertaken by officers to seize illegal products and secure prosecutions, whilst appreciating the challenges officers faced in terms of low penalties administered by courts and the high cost of safely disposing of the vapes they seize.

In Text Promo Image

“Councillors were given the opportunity to look at some illicit vapes which had been seized, so they gained a better understanding of different products and the ways in which they were unsafe.

“During the investigation, the group became aware of research undertaken by Barnsley Youth Council amongst local young people to find out more about the prevalence of vaping and the attitudes of young people towards it.

“Councillors have particular concerns regarding the use of illicit products, with these being especially harmful to the local population due to additional and harmful chemicals being contained in them.”

The council said it has an ‘unwavering commitment’ to safeguarding public health with an emphasis on stopping illicit e-cigs, while South Yorkshire Police said operations to disrupt associated criminality will continue given the county-wide success.

Chief Superintendent Laura Koscikiewicz added: “Removing illegal vapes, cigarettes and tobacco from our streets is one of our key priorities as we are aware that the amount being discovered was very high.

“Our officers work hard alongside the council to find these illegal substances.

“The safety of the people across the whole of South Yorkshire is our priority and these illegal substances are being sold to people with potentially harmful chemicals within them, which could cause serious health problems.

“I can assure the people that the hard work does not stop and we continue to focus on this issue and make it a key priority.”

* If you have any information relating to the suspected sale of illicit vapes or tobacco products from shops anywhere within your area, you can report this via South Yorkshire Police’s online portal or by calling 101.