Locals who spotted the sign over the weekend took to social media to share photos of the sign - sparking over 300 comments and responses from several local councillors.
One resident commented: “This is absolutely disgraceful. Vapes are a massive problem with young people as it is and to sell toys it’s as though they are wanting to entice children into the shop.”
Another said the shop owners should be “ashamed of themselves” after seeing the sign.
Labour and Co-operative councillor for East Retford Harriet Digby said: “I’m one of the Retford councillors. Really grateful that people flagged this up. I contacted relevant people last night and this is being raised with trading standards as it is illegal to sell vapes to children.”
Nottinghamshire county councillor for Retford East Mike Introna also tried to reassure locals under the post after receiving a number of messages over the weekend.
“I have spoken in recent weeks to parents on this matter and their concerns,” he said. “I won’t comment on the specific allegations, but I can say that I was at a meeting of the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Panel last week, at the Notts Police HQ, and I raised parents concerns directly to the Assistant Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police.”
A spokesperson for the businesses defended themselves against the allegations, claiming they don’t know who put the sign up.
“We don’t really know who put the sign up,” they told Nottinghamshire Live. “If someone has a problem with us they should just come and speak to us. How does it make sense to put up a sign?” they said.
“We never sell to children, we always ask for ID. Some children may send their older friends in, but we can’t sell to someone if they do not have ID. It’s like a board that someone has put up. We are talking to the police about it as well, as it’s really shocking.”
Pictures online show the store has now covered up the central section of the sign with cardboard.
East Retford councillor Sue Shaw posted a picture of the sign and said: “The sign has been temporarily covered up however this is not good enough. The sign needs to come down immediately. I would urge residents to report to trading standards too.”
The government has recently cracked down on disposable vapes as a part of plans to tackle the rise in young people vaping and to protect children’s health.
New data shows the number of children vaping in the last three years has tripled, the Government said, adding that use among younger children is also rising, with 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds now using vapes.
Figures from the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity suggest 7.6% of 11 to 17-year-olds now vape regularly or occasionally, up from 4.1% in 2020.
Child-friendly flavours such as those inspired by energy drinks and cookies are believed to be fuelling their increase in popularity among the younger generation.
New powers are set be introduced by the end of the year to restrict flavours which are specifically marketed at children and ensure that manufacturers produce plainer packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops, moving them out of children’s sight.
New £100 fines will also be brought in for shops in England and Wales which sell vapes illegally to children.