Scottish authorities have recently blamed a “significant rise” in vaping in schoolchildren north of the border on sellers who are flouting current regulations – particularly, selling non-MHRA registered disposable vapes that contain and illegal amount of nicotine.
Recently, Trading Standards departments have been conducting coordinated raids across the United Kingdom on vendors and seizing non-compliant products.
The UK Vaping Industry Association notes that the current penalties for vendors do not appear to be acting as deterrents and has called for fines to be raised to £10,000. It explains that this move is required to clear the vape sector 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 [industry].”
The UK Vaping Industry Association’s director general, John Dunne said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
To prove the UK Vaping Industry Association’s commitment to enforcement, John Dunne recently accompanied Trading Standards and Met Police officers as they raided stores in London’s East End. Officers lifted illegal vapes to the value of £58,000.
John Dunne said: “As a body we work closely with Trading Standards officers across the country to get rid of these rogue sellers, which give our industry as a whole a bad name. It is important to ensure adult consumers can purchase safe products while also keeping them out of the hands of young people.”