The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has proposed a hard-hitting action plan to the government aimed at preventing underage access to vapes. Despite a ban on the sale of vaping products to under-18s, unscrupulous retailers continue to sell them to children, and regulators are struggling to police the problem. The UKVIA, the largest trade body representing the vaping industry, is proposing three measures to prevent children from accessing vapes and reducing youth vaping. The first proposal is to increase the fines for retailers who sell vapes to under-18s from £2,500 to £10,000, with directors and owners of retail businesses facing significant personal fines. Secondly, the UKVIA proposes a compulsory retail registration scheme, where retailers must meet strict qualifying criteria to sell vaping products, and education programmes are put in place for those selling vapes. Repeat offenders risk having their registration rescinded. Lastly, the UKVIA suggests a National Test Purchasing Scheme where retailers are regularly tested to see whether they are selling to under-18s.

The UKVIA recommends that fines collected from the proposal are used to fund heightened enforcement by Trading Standards to effectively police rogue traders who sell vapes to children. The UKVIA further proposes that all retailers be registered to allow Trading Standards to police them effectively. The registration would ensure that all retailers put in place age checks and would be aware of the potential penalties for non-compliance, including losing their ability to sell vaping products. The registration and fines would also cover distributors selling illegal or non-compliant vaping products. Finally, all retailers will be regularly tested to ensure they are adequately age checking customers, with the test purchasing cost forming part of the registration fees.

John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA, said that it was unacceptable for retailers to sell vaping products to children while vaping played a critical role in reducing the number of smokers in the UK and saving the taxpayer millions. He added that the proposals were designed not only to deter rogue retailers but also to allow the government, through Trading Standards enforcement officers around the country, to properly police the problem.

Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, welcomed the proposals, saying that youth vaping had no place in today's society, and greater restrictions on access to these products must be the focus of addressing the issue. Trading Standards also welcomed the proposals, adding that greater resource, stronger powers, and bigger penalties would have a significant impact on their ability to police and cut the source of supplies to young people and protect our children's future.

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2023-04-14 10:46:26