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Community reporter, 17, exposes underage vape sales on patch

Iona MadonaldA 17-year-old reporter has exposed the selling of vapes to underage customers on her patch in her first-ever investigation.

Iona MacDonald, who works for Highland News & Media, visited seven shops around the city of Inverness to see if she could purchase vapes without identification – with three of them duly selling the restricted nicotine products to her with no questions asked.

Iona, pictured, has now been invited to a discussion on vapes in Holyrood as a result of her investigation.

The teenager was hired at the age of 16 under the Community News Projectwhich now looks set to close after Facebook owner Meta decided to cut its funding – primarily to cover Ullapool and the surrounding towns and villages.

Iona said: “It was a bit daunting going into the shops myself but it wasn’t too scary, and I expected to be able to buy some so it wasn’t too shocking when I could.

“I was happy in a sense that I knew I had a good story because once I had bought them, I had proven you can.”

Sarah Fyfe, head of content and audience at HNM, added: “Iona put forward the idea to conduct an investigation into the accessibility of vapes for under 18s.

“At only 17, she is already a confident and conscientious journalist, with the ability to find human interest stories that have impact on both local and national levels.

“She did a stellar job of the piece, with a thorough investigation, a captivating piece of writing and eye-catching images.

“Her article has attracted attention from across the country and she has been invited to a discussion on vapes in Holyrood. I am incredibly proud of her.”