RETAILERS must crack down on the sale and placement of vapes after it was discovered children could be inhaling twice the daily safe amount of lead by smoking them, the Scottish Greens have said.

An investigation into used vapes – most of which were illegal -  gathered at Baxter College in Kidderminster has shown some contained high levels of nickel, lead and chronium.

The results showed children using them could be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead, and nine times the safe amount of nickel.

High levels of lead exposure in children can affect the central nervous system and brain development, according to the World Health Organisation.

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Greens health spokesperson Gillian Mackay, who has been campaigning for a ban on disposable vapes, described the results as “frightening” and insisted supermarkets have a moral imperative to take action over marketing and product placement.

She said: “The results from scientists are frightening and should serve as a wake-up call over the new health emergency we are facing.

“The number of young people trying vaping in the UK has risen by 50% in the last year alone according to the latest reports. That alone is extremely concerning, but if this growth is also increasing demand for a new breed of illegally produced products then that is horrific.

“We can’t allow manufacturers to use these findings as an advertising campaign to increase the sale of their money spinning ranges, because it is their marketing which lies at the heart of this growing problem. 

“The appeal and lure of legal vapes are amplified by their placement in supermarkets and in other shops, which opens the door to these rogue products. That is why I ask again for retailers to do the right thing and hide them from view or ban them.

“It is only a matter of months since we saw vapes containing higher than the legal level of nicotine being removed from shop shelves. This new revelation shows the potential harm that vapes can cause.

“In light of this terrifying new evidence, supermarkets have a moral imperative to take action, and that must begin by clearing these products from view. They are a risk to health, bad for our environment, and a danger for generations to come.”

Gillian Golden, chief executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, said: “The IBVTA believes that there is a clear association between the sale of illegal vapes and sales to young people. Retailers who do not check the provenance or MHRA notification status of vape products they sell are also unlikely to verify the age of customers in any meaningful way.

"The results of these tests on illegal vapes are indeed shocking and authorities need to crack down on illegal sales to anyone under 18. The sensible approach would be to ensure that existing regulations adequately enforced before introducing new restrictions which might unintentionally make these products less accessible to adult smokers.”