A PROBE is underway after claims that a shop reportedly sold highly-addictive vapes to a 12-year-old autistic schoolgirl.

The youngster's father discovered the age-restricted item stashed in the child's bedroom - and was stunned to discover she had been able to use her pocket money to purchase them.

Officers from Trading Standards confirmed they have launched an investigation into practices at the USave store in Cardowan in North Lanarkshire, after a complaint was made about the business by the furious father.

When contacted by the Glasgow Times, bosses at the branch admitted that they had been visited by the consumer watchdogs but said measures are now in place to prevent the illegal sale of any age-restricted items like vapes or booze.

Glasgow Times:

The dad-of-three told the Glasgow Times: “I feel sick to the pit of my stomach that my wee girl was able to get access to what’s basically a toxic chemical that people become hooked on.

“I had absolutely no idea this was going on until I found the vape in her bedroom. I was shocked and when I asked her about it, she told me all her friends use vapes and they can buy them locally.

“I just couldn’t believe it. My daughter has autism and has the mental age of a seven-or eight-year-old. She doesn't understand the impact these things can have on her health.

“It’s very concerning that school kids are getting access to them so freely, and from what my daughter tells me this is becoming a big problem among youngsters. These vapes sell for between £6 and £8 and she claims a lot of her friends are saving up their cash to buy them.

"I’m appalled at what’s going on and I think a lot of parents need to be more vigilant."

The legal age in Scotland to purchase a vape or e-liquids is 18. As well as serving as a replacement for cigarettes in adults, the nicotine-packed sticks have worryingly become popular among those under 18.

Data from a recent study by the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) revealed that the number of children who have tried vaping was 16 per cent of those polled - and that figure is believed to be on the rise.

Glasgow Times:

While e-cigarettes are considered a significantly safer alternative to tobacco, they are still potentially dangerous to the user's health. There are also concerns among experts that some of the products on sale in the UK are illicit and contain banned chemicals or super-strength nicotine.

The dad claims his daughter, whose identity we are protecting, has suffered from a bad cough and headaches since quitting.

He said: “Before I found out what was going on, I noticed she had a bad cough for a few weeks. I joked to a family member that it sounds like a smoker's cough - now I know that’s exactly what it was.

“Goodness knows how many vapes she was using over the past 10 months, and I’m worried about the impact this could potentially have on her long-term wellbeing.

“I sat my daughter down and told her just how addictive these can be, and she has promised never to go near them again.

“Kids feel peer pressure to use them, but they don’t realise that these products still contain nicotine. I think the age limit to buy them should be raised to 25 instead of 18 and there needs to be more serious deterrents so kids can’t get a hold of them.

“I’m speaking out to warn other parents. Shopkeepers need to take responsibility to make sure youngsters don't get access to something that can be detrimental to their health.

Glasgow Times:

A spokesperson for the USave branch said they demand valid identification is displayed before items such as vapes or alcohol are sold to anyone whose age may be in doubt.

They added: “We can confirm that Trading Standards have visited the store and stickers have been put up in the shop saying that age-restricted products will not be sold without showing a valid form of identification.

“Staff have been made aware of this and we will ensure products are never sold to anyone under the age limit moving forward.  We've also been made aware that children are buying vapes from people over the age of 18 within the community.

“This is a growing issue which must be dealt with by educating the youth at school on the negative effects that smoking has on our health.”

A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council said: “Our Trading Standards team has received a complaint and will investigate.”

We previously told how an Easterhouse shopworker was sacked for selling vapes to a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

Officers from Trading Standards visited the Wellhouse store after a complaint was made by the teen’s parent. The mum told the Glasgow Times how she found dozens of vapes in her daughter’s bedroom - and was furious to discover some had been sold to her at the local shop.

Newhills Newsagents owner Abdul Wajid said at the time that the employee responsible for supplying the vapes had been dismissed from his role, adding: “We take this type of accusation very seriously and we do not support or condone the sale of age-restricted items to underage minors.

“The individual responsible has been dismissed from his role and no longer works at the store.”