The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has reiterated the call for a range of get-tough measures to crack down on unscrupulous retailers who sell vapes to children and young people, including fines of £10,000 and a national retail licencing scheme.
The latest call follows a new survey from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which found that the proportion of children aged 11-17 who vape has risen from 4 per cent in 2020 to 7 per cent this year. It also found that disposable vapes are the most popular products among 52 per cent of underaged vapers.
The UKVIA said it understands “the need for the right balance between supporting adult smokers to quit without encouraging take up amongst under-18s and never-smokers”.
The trade body has last week set out a range of proposals to the Department of Health and Social Care to address the issue of child access to vapes. These included:
- The introduction of a licensing or approved retailer and distributor scheme whereby vape retailers (both online and in-store) and distributors on the scheme would pay a fee, adhere to strong age verification practices and commit that products they sell are both notified with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and compliant with Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation.
- Serving increased penalties of at least £10,000 per instance on traders flouting UK law. Should two fines be issued, a retailer would lose its ‘approved retailer’ status.
- Commission a national test purchasing scheme similar to the one UKVIA runs for its members to ensure all operations are performing to high standards when it comes to preventing youth access to e-cigarettes.
- Ensure Trading Standards is effectively resourced, such that it can recruit and train officers, dispose of illicit products, and ensure its actions are an effective deterrent to rogue actors across the supply chain. Such funding would be sourced from the proposed licensing scheme and, eventually, from fines issued for illegal trading.
- Adopt into legislation the UKVIA’s packaging, labelling and flavour names guidelines to prevent against branding that inadvertently appeals to non-smokers or under-18s. These guidelines reflect recommendations from the Khan Review.
- Introduce non-nicotine containing e-liquids to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR). Regulating all e-liquids in this way will further bear down on youth access and improve the quality of products offered for sale.
“Together, these actions will help vaping fulfil the pivotal role that the recently published Khan review sees for the category in making smoking obsolete in the most responsible manner,” the association said in a statement.