The issue of youth access to vaping is hotter than ever.
Practically every day now the media runs stories on this and, sadly, it dominates the headlines, often overshadowing the amazing results we are seeing from record numbers of adult smokers switching to vaping.
Here at the UKVIA we are in no doubt about our position on youth access: vapes are for adult smokers trying to quit and there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for them falling into underaged hands.
Not only have we called for a national licencing scheme for retailers selling vapes, we also want minimum fines of £10,000 per instance for any unscrupulous traders caught selling to young people. The current fines are not fit for purpose.
Our members follow a strict code of conduct on underaged selling and I can tell you from my daily conversations with them that they are right behind any measures possible to prevent youth access.
The UKVIA is also the only trade body that conducts regular age verification test purchasing of our members through a third-party company.
The latest weapon in our armoury in this battle is an important new strategic partnership with the organisation CitizenCard, a non-profit, UK-wide issuer of Home Office-approved proof of age and ID cards.
The team at CitizenCard understand the challenges retailers face and how best to educate and support on best-practice guidelines.
As well as issuing physical ID cards, CitizenCard also runs a retail programme called “No ID, No Sale!” which provides free information packs to retailers containing materials such as posters reminding people that ‘it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18’.
Now, in an industry first, CitizenCard in partnership with the UKVIA, will produce its retail packs but customised so that the word ‘vaping’ replaces ‘tobacco’, making it clear that customers looking to buy vape goods will also be ID checked. The UKVIA-branded posters and signs have already started going out to UKVIA retail members and will soon be available to nonmembers for free via www.ukvia.co.uk
This comes following the UKVIA’s recent open letter to the Department for Health calling for more to be done to stamp out rogue traders who repeatedly flaunt the rules about selling to minors.
This letter pre-empted the publication of concerning figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), which recently recorded a rise in youth vaping from four per cent to seven per cent across the UK.
The report also states that the main source is shops, with 46.5 per cent of under-18s obtaining their e-cigarettes from retailers. CitizenCard’s ‘No ID, No Sale’ campaign is designed to provide tools for retailers to help prevent the illegal sale of age restricted items to children, which up until now has not referenced vape products.
Feedback from our retail members who have already received the new ‘No ID, No Sale’ vaping packs has been 100 percent positive.
I believe CitizenCard will be a valuable partner in the mission to prevent underage sales with our pooled expertise helping ensure retailers are fully equipped to play their part in combatting one of the largest challenges facing our industry.
We need to ensure retailers have the best guidelines in place to mitigate this rise in underage vaping, alongside more stringent penalties for those flouting the law.
Retailers who don’t follow the rules are an enormous threat to our cause and to public harm reduction, and it is only right that we, as the largest trade body for our sector, take proactive steps as an industry to fix the problem.