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Cautious welcome from retailers for vaping consultation

October 12, 2023

Photo: iStock

Trade bodies representing convenience retailers have cautiously welcomed the government consultation announced on Thursday, setting out a range of options to reduce vape product availability to young people and introduce new laws that would stop anyone born after the start of 2009 from ever being able to legally purchase tobacco.

The consultation proposes restrictions on the sale of disposable vapes, ‘child-friendly’ vape flavours and packaging and the display in retail outlets. The disposable vape restrictions include a proposal for prohibiting their sale and supply.

The consultation also proposes to make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products. Products that would be in scope of the change also include heated tobacco products, which is considered as a smokefree product as they heat tobacco instead of burning it, producing a nicotine-containing aerosol that is fundamentally different from cigarette smoke.

Responding, ACS chief executive James Lowman said the convenience sector will need support from the government to implement a totally new policy on tobacco age restriction.

“The government must consider all of the possible long term challenges for colleagues and retailers at the front line of implementing a generational ban on the sale of tobacco,” he added.

On the vaping restrictions, he noted that the purpose should be to ‘properly regulate’ the market and make sure it operates ‘responsibly and sustainably’.

“It’s clear that something needs to be done to reduce the impact that these products have on the environment, and these products should never be sold to or used by children. We welcome further discussion with the government on the options set out in the consultation,” he said.

“Current and future regulations must be enforced far better. It is unacceptable that responsible retailers are being undermined by others selling products that are already illegal, often to children. The chancellor can address this in his Autumn Statement with further funding for Trading Standards to carry out more local enforcement activity against rogue vape sellers.”

The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) said it backs the government’s proposals to tighten up on vape sales to young people but warned against an outright ban on disposable vapes.

“While we agree with plans to prevent children and young people being attracted to vapes, this must not be at the expense of adults who have switched to these products in a bid to give up smoking,” the Fed’s National President Muntazir Dipoti said.

“We also want more clarity on what any ‘restrictions’ on disposable vapes would entail. An outright ban on these products would simply create a black market and fuel illicit sales by criminals and unscrupulous traders.

“Vapes help many people give up smoking and are part of life now. I am confident the existing black market will become even more active.