No holds barred enforcement and severe penalties need to be introduced by regulators to ensure that the sale of vape products to minors is cut off at source, according to the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)- the sector’s largest trade body.
The call by the UKVIA comes on the back of reports that have emerged recently which point to a significant rise in vaping amongst school children in Scotland who have been able to buy with ease disposable vape products online and from local retail outlets. It follows recent support that the association has given to Trading Standards across the country to support the seizure of disposable vape products that are not only non-compliant but proving to be appealing to young people which some unscrupulous retailers have latched onto.
The UKVIA wants fines increased to a minimum of £10,000 per instance for those retailers who are caught selling directly to those under the age of 18 “to rid the industry of the scourge of rogue traders intent on making a fast buck out of kids at the expense of the safety of young people and the reputation of the wider sector.”
Said John Dunne, director general of the UKVIA which has worked directly with Trading Standards on retailer guidance to prevent youth access to vaping products sold both online and in store as well as assisting in operations in the field.
“Enough is enough, the industry has a duty of care to young people. We need to send a strong message out to the minority of rogue retailers and wholesalers who do not care about breaking the law as they know they won’t get severely punished for doing so.
“The time has come to introduce heavy fines to deter rogue retailers from re-offending and putting vape products into the wrong hands. There needs to be consistency across the board and any regime that is introduced to stamp out under-age access to vapes needs to be applied to all retailers, including specialist vape stores and e-commerce sites, convenience stores, supermarkets and online marketplaces like E-Bay and Amazon.
He added: “We need to figure out how heightened and more consistent enforcement across the country is paid for and we need to put all ideas on the table including vape retail licensing, where retailers would have to pay for a permit to trade vape products. We want to support Trading Standards in every way we can so that regulation can have the desired effect in giving the highest level of protection to children when it comes to the sale of vape products.
“On the back of recent reports showing evidence of increasing sales of disposable vape products to minors, we will be holding a consultation with our near 100-strong membership base around future enforcement of age of sale regulations. This will look to build on our work to date with Trading Standards in this area.”
Dunne concluded: “Whilst greater enforcement will likely be a cost to the industry, it’s about doing the right thing and it’s a cost that I believe the industry is more than willing to contribute to. It’s also critical for the vaping sector to protect the reputation of the majority in the industry who are in it to help adult smokers quit through vaping which is considerably less harmful than smoking. We will be considering all options and ideas to make it as difficult as possible, and a significant financial risk, for vape products to be sold to children.”
Geek Bar, one of the world’s leading disposable vape manufacturers with a significant presence in the UK and a member of the UKVIA, has already taken significant steps to address the sale of its products to minors including revamping all of its packaging to make absolute clear it’s an adult product. It’s also in the process of setting up a VapeWatch website where parents can report retailers who are selling disposable vape products to their children, with information passed onto Trading Standards.
Allen Yang, Chief Executive of Geek Bar, added: “We applaud and fully support the call by the UKVIA. The responsible segment of the industry has to lead by example and rid itself of those who are, and will always be, intent on breaking the law by selling vape products to those who are underage.”