The UK government recently announced it intends to clamp down on underage smokers by preventing anyone born on 1 January 2009 or after from ever being able to legally purchase tobacco and other nicotine products.
While we wholeheartedly agree with plans to prevent children and young people from being attracted to vapes, this must not be at the expense of adults who have switched to these products in a bid to give up smoking.
We are also concerned that banning items such as single-use vapes will merely drive sales underground, giving unscrupulous black marketeers more opportunity to profit by selling vapes and e-cigarettes to minors.
These illicit products are already on sale at car boot sales, mobile phone shops, cafés and tanning salons, as well as via the internet and by dealers delivering direct to homes. These rogue sales are the ones most likely to take place regardless of the buyer’s age.
They are also most likely to contain dangerous, illegal levels of toxic chemicals, most commonly from companies in the Far East. Cigarettes are also a feature of illicit sales outlets, and organised crime gangs are usually at the core of this trade.
It is a source of frustration to our members running newsagents and convenience stores that there are too few trading standards officers to effectively tackle this crime that blights communities.
As a federation, we will be contributing to the consultation on the government’s proposals, which closes on 6 December.
If enforcement under the legislation stemming from this consultation exercise is not well thought through, it could lead to more problems and have a detrimental effect on retail businesses.
I encourage all independent retailers who feel strongly about this issue to also make their feelings known.
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