The latest news on Elf Bar and Lost Mary is shocking, but, in my opinion, has been blown way out of proportion. Booker, Bestway and supermarkets have delisted all of them, but it was only a suggestion to do this. It was a voluntary recall.
While some wholesalers have offered credit and to accept returns of these vapes, my supplier hasn’t done this because it was a voluntary recall. It means that if we removed all our stock, we’d lose approximately £1,000-worth of stock, which we can’t afford – especially in today’s economic climate.
The challenge with the government is they seem to be viewing this news as a category-wide issue, rather than just a supplier. If it was any other category, they would approach the supplier and fix it this way. They should be concentrating their efforts on those who are selling illicit vapes and next-gen products every day.
I’ve read many articles about under-18s being able to buy vapes and other next-gen products, but any responsible retailer would never morally do this. The internet is a huge problem in enabling this.
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To gain access, all they need is to click a button or input their date of birth to say they are over 18 and they are in. Anyone can lie on that. But if you come to my store – or most other convenience stores – we’ll ask for proof.
The government needs to be focusing more on online retailers and the few retailers who sell to under-18s. These retailers don’t care about selling to someone underage, as it’s about the money. Currently, it seems the government is tarring us all with the same brush. The government is also encouraging recycling, without giving us the resource to do so. We’ve just launched a vape recycling scheme, which came about after we noticed how many were being thrown on the floor. There isn’t much guidance on setting this up, but all retailers need is a box for recycling them in store.
We’ve been posting about the scheme on social media and we’re the first in Wales to offer the scheme. I know it’s working because retailers have been asking about it and we’ve recycled about 500 vapes since Christmas.
Our biggest challenge and shock was how many consumers weren’t aware they can’t be recycled at home. So, we’ve been talking to them and they are now getting in the habit of bringing them in when they buy more, which is all part of being a responsible retailer.
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