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Home » UK Vaping Industry Association statement on the Children’s Commissioner’s announcement

UK Vaping Industry Association statement on the Children’s Commissioner’s announcement

John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), said:

“We absolutely agree that children’s wellbeing is precious at all times so they can lead healthy and happy lives. We also agree that youth vaping has to be urgently tackled, but banning single use vapes is not the answer to the issue.

Vapes, whether designed to be single or multiple use devices, are age-restricted products, such as alcohol or aerosol spray paints and should never be sold to children. This is an access issue not a product issue.

The answer is not to ban any category of vape device and deny adult smokers and vapers effective choices, especially those in high smoking, low income areas but to ensure that the regulations are stringent enough and the penalties severe enough so that those who have up to now been intent on breaking the law are discouraged from ever selling to minors again.

The enforcement of age regulations in the vaping sector is currently a broken system. Research just published by Arcus Compliance this week following Freedom of Information Requests reveals just two successful prosecutions against illicit vape traders across six major UK cities over the past three years. In addition, across the same cities and time period less than £2,500 in penalties – the maximum for one offender – were issued to retailers for underage/illicit sales.

The fact is Trading Standards needs increased government backing to tackle rogue traders and cut off the source of supply to minors.

The UKVIA, which represents a significant proportion of the UK vaping market has, for the last two years, been calling on the government to clamp down hard on this issue by introducing measures including:

  • On-the-spot fines of at least £10,000 per instance for those caught selling to young people or selling illegal products (up from £2,500 maximum)
  • A retail registration scheme that would ensure retailers meet strict standards before they are permitted to sell vapes including robust age verification processes
  • A national test purchasing effort to ensure those selling vapes under the registration scheme aren’t supplying minors, a scheme similar to what the UKVIA does with its own members.

We see recent measures announced by the government as a step in the right direction, including a £3m illicit vapes enforcement squad to tackle illegal sales of vapes to under 18s and the introduction of a test purchasing programme in convenience stores and vape shops. We also welcome the Children’s Commissioner’s call for on the spot fines for rogue retailers, which we have already made; as well as the banning of nicotine-free vapes to children. The UKVIA is on record, on multiple occasions, in calling for nicotine free vapes to be covered by exactly the same regulations which prevent the sales of nicotine vapes to those under 18.

“Finally, we disagree with the Children’s Commissioner about its proposal to introduce plain packaging as it will conflate vaping with smoking and will add to the misperceptions that already abound regarding the relative risk of vaping compared to smoking; thereby potentially deterring smokers from attempting to quit using vapes; and raising doubts amongst vapers who may then consider returning to their former smoking habits. Interestingly, new research just conducted by YouGov amongst 1,000 16-17 year olds has revealed that only 8% would stop vaping if vapes became plain in colour.”

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