A 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 Project – which 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.”