UK Vaping Association calls for £10,000 fine for retailers selling e-cigarettes to children

(UKVIA) has renewed its call for a series of tough measures to crack down on unscrupulous retailers selling e-cigarettes to children and young people, including a 10,000 fine and a national retail licensing system.

This latest call comes after a new survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that vaping among children aged 11 to 17 had risen from 4% in 2020 to 7% this year. The study also found that single-use e-cigarettes were the most popular product among 52 percent of underage smokers.

UKVIA said they understood “the need to strike the right balance between supporting adult smokers to quit, while discouraging those under 18 and never-smokers from smoking”.

The industry group made a series of recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care last week to address children’s exposure to e-cigarettes. These include:

  • Introduce a licensed or approved retailer and distributor program in which e-cigarette retailers (online and in-store) and distributors will pay fees, adhere to strict age verification practices, and promise that the products they sell will receive both medicines and health care Product Regulatory Authority (MHRA) notification, in turn compliant with Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulations.
  • For traders who flout UK laws, service firms have increased fines of at least ?10,000 each time. If two fines are issued, the retailer will lose its “approved retailer” status.
  • When it comes to preventing youth exposure to vaping, the committee has developed a national test procurement scheme similar to the one that UKVIA runs for its members to ensure all operations are held to a high standard.
  • Ensure that Trade Standards is effectively resourced so that it can recruit and train officials to deal with illicit products, and ensure that its actions are effective in deterring rogue actors in the supply chain. The funds will come from the proposed licensing scheme and ultimately from fines for illegal transactions.

Incorporate UKVIA’s packaging, labelling and flavour name guidelines into legislation to prevent brands from inadvertently appealing to non-smokers or people under 18. These guidelines reflect recommendations from Khan’s comments.

Include nicotine-free e-liquids in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations. Regulating all vaping liquids in this way will further reduce youth exposure to vaping liquids and improve the quality of products sold.

“These actions will help e-cigarettes play the critical role identified in the recently published Khan Review in phasing out cigarettes in the most responsible way,” the association said in a statement.