By Ursula Duddy

Derry's council has announced that they will be responsible for enforcing new legislation in relation to e-cigarettes carrying fines of up to £5,000.

The new legislation was outlined in a report presented at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee, held in Strabane on Thursday.

The report said that the ‘use of e-cigarettes has grown significantly in popularity in the past five years’ and that ‘while the Department of Health (DoH) accepts that they may have a role to play in harm reduction, it is concerned by evidence which shows they are being used by children and young people’.

In February 2016, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted in favour of legislation granting the DoH powers to make regulations restricting the age that vendors can sell nicotine containing products, such as e-cigarettes, to over 18.

These regulations created two new offences: selling nicotine inhaling products to a person under the age of 18 and purchasing a nicotine inhaling product on behalf of a minor.

These regulations must be enforced by local District Councils.

The meeting was told that District Councils will have the option of issuing fixed penalty notices for both offences which would be £250.

Failure to pay a fixed penalty notice could result in the matter being referred to a court.

If someone is convicted of one of these offences, a court can award a fine up to a maximum £5,000.

A person or a business found to be repeatedly selling e-cigarettes and related products to children could receive a Restricted Sales Order or a Restricted Premises Order from the court.

This would prevent them from selling nicotine inhaling products for up to three years.

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