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Two thirds of UK vape stores fail test purchases, study shows

February 25, 2020


More than two thirds of vape retailers failed test purchases undertaken by JTI as part of a scheme to identify retailers at risk of selling vaping products to minors.

The tobacco supplier undertook the tests as part of the IDentify programme, part of its “continued commitment to supporting retailers and preventing minors having access to vaping products”.

The test purchasing at 344 stores in Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and the West Midlands also discovered that 53% of businesses are not carrying out any test purchasing checks to understand if their own systems are working.

Other eye-catching stats include:

  • 62% of stores do not have a refusals register for vaping products.
  • Only 12% of staff are offering verbal training in preventing underage sales.
  • Just 0.4% of stores documenting this, important evidence Trading Standards can request.
  • Nearly two-thirds of businesses are also not showing signage at point of sale with the same low rate for signage inside premises.
  • The best performing area for requesting ID was Cardiff (67% pass rate) with London the lowest (19% pass rate).

The dramatic findings highlight the need for the vaping industry as a whole – including in the convenience channel – to place as much emphasis on the ‘Challenge 25’ programme for vaping as the do for tobacco and alcohol.

Retailers identified as at risk have subsequently been offered free Vaping Tool Kits which includes information on checking for proof of age, a refusals register and Challenge 25 signage.

Charlie Cunningham-Ried, JTI’s vice president – corporate affairs and communications, said: “Our IDentify scheme aims to tackle the problem of underage sales by providing training and support for retailers, in particular to smaller, independent retailers who often don’t have the resources to provide the same level of service as larger stores do.”

JTI has said it plans to expand the Identify scheme over the coming 12 months.