UKVIA reinforces call for “get tough” measures to stem rising numbers of children vaping
- Association says unscrupulous retailers to blame for increase but acknowledges part that “industry, regulators, the education sector and enforcement bodies” can play collectively in preventing youth access
- New figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), highlighting the rise in use of vapes amongst U18 year olds, follow a range of robust measures proposed by the UKVIA to the Department for Health and Social Care last week designed to stamp out rogue trading
The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), the largest trade body representing the vaping industry, has reinforced its call for a range of get-tough measures to crack down on unscrupulous retailers who sell vapes to young people, including fines of £10k and a national retail licencing scheme.
It comes as a survey from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that the proportion of children aged 11-17 who vape has risen from 4% in 2020 to 7% this year. It also found that disposable vapes are the most popular products among 52% of underaged vapers.
Responding to the report, the UKVIA’s Director General John Dunne said: “The UKVIA understands the need for the right balance between supporting adult smokers to quit without encouraging take up amongst under-18s and ‘never-smokers’.
“We wrote to the Department for Health and Social Care last week to address the issue of child access to vapes, proposing a set of recommendations to come down hard on those who sell vapes to minors whilst maintaining vaping’s critical role for helping smokers to quit.”
Its proposed recommendations included:
- The introduction of a licensing or approved retailer and distributor scheme whereby vape retailers (both online and in-store) and distributors on the scheme would pay a fee, adhere to strong age verification practices and commit that products they sell are both notified with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and compliant with Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation.
- Serving increased penalties of at least £10,000 per instance on traders flouting UK law. Should two fines be issued, a retailer would lose its ‘approved retailer’ status.
- Commission a national test purchasing scheme similar to the one the UKVIA runs for its members to ensure all operations are performing to high standards when it comes to preventing youth access to e-cigarettes.
- Ensure Trading Standards is effectively resourced, such that it can recruit and train officers, dispose of illicit products, and ensure its actions are an effective deterrent to rogue actors across the supply chain. Such funding would be sourced from the proposed licensing scheme and, eventually, from fines issued for illegal trading.
- Adopt into legislation the UKVIA’s packaging, labelling and flavour names guidelines to prevent against branding that inadvertently appeals to non-smokers or under-18s. These guidelines reflect recommendations from the Khan Review.
- Introduce non-nicotine containing e-liquids to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR). Regulating all e-liquids in this way will further bear down on youth access and improve the quality of products offered for sale.
“Together, these actions will help vaping fulfil the vital role that the recently published Khan review sees for the category in making smoking obsolete in the most responsible manner,” continued John Dunne.
“Our members work to strict supply chain and packaging, labelling and flavour name guidelines, but more is needed to bear down on rogue traders outside our membership who flout the law and have no qualms about selling vapes to minors,” he added.
“Make no mistake, the issue of youth access to vaping sits firmly with unscrupulous traders who are happy to sell to children. To combat rising numbers of children vaping, the supply of vapes to the underaged has to be cut off at source.
“However, there is an important role for industry, regulators, the education sector and enforcement bodies to collaborate to ensure that vapes do not fall into the wrong hands.”