The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has welcomed proposals for on-the-spot fines and a ‘robust licensing scheme’, both of which were raised as part of a discussion on illegal vape sales by Peter Gibson MP during a Westminster Hall Debate last week.
The debate saw a general cross-party consensus that there needs to be increased regulations and licensing on the vaping industry, as Mark Eastwood MP put it: “The legal vaping industry, like any other industry, needs protecting from criminal activity and illegal competition.”
The trade body said it has long called for a fit-for-purpose licensing scheme and for £10,000 on-the-spot fines for retailers caught selling illicit and non-compliant products – such as ‘big puff’ devices which may be legal in other countries, but not in the UK.
The UKVIA, however, ‘respectfully’ disagreed with Gibson’s suggestion that vapes should be sold “in plain packaging and out of sight, just like tobacco”, saying this would send entirely the wrong message to smokers and conflate vaping with cigarettes, which kill 250 people everyday in the UK alone.
“Vaping poses only a fraction of the risks of smoking and, while we support the MP’s suggestion for ‘a nationwide awareness campaign on illegal vapes’, we also want to see a nationwide awareness campaign on the relative risks of vaping, which is 95% less harmful than smoking,” the trade body said in a statement.
The UKVIA is currently involved in a major industry-wide consultation to develop a framework for a vape retail and distributor licensing, which will be presented to parliamentarians in February.