Vaping industry crackdown on underage sales

Vaping companies pledged further action to prevent underage sales in Parliament on 26 February.

E-cigarette companies pledged further action to prevent underage sales in Parliament on 26 February.

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Juul attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on e-cigarettes event to discuss age restrictions.

The UKVIA launched a new 10-point code of conduct for manufacturers, BAT announced VerifY – an underage sales prevention training programme for retailers, and Juul outlined what it requires of any retailer selling its products.

BAT’s head of external affairs Will Hill spoke to RN ahead of his speech at the event. He said Brexit provided an opportunity to remove excessive regulation on vaping, but warned: “That will only happen if the industry can show that it can be trusted.” 

“We’re asking that retailers work with us, are aware of the age restrictions and that they understand and promote best practice.”

Asked about the event, Juul UK managing director Dan Thompson told RN: “We require every retailer to apply a “Challenge 25” policy. We police this independently through mystery shopping and, where necessary, we cease supply to non-compliant retailers. We have conducted over 2000 mystery shops in the last six months and as a concrete example, we closed nine accounts last week for non-compliance.”

Conservative MP and APPG chairman Mark Pawsey said suppliers have “a responsibility to prevent young people from having access to these products.” Referring to the UKVIA’s code of conduct he added: “Today the industry has taken an important step in ensuring this is the case.”

Groups including the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the Department of Health and Action on Smoking and Health have previously stated they do not believe underage vaping is a widespread issue. However the use of cartoons, trade-mark violating confectionery brands and sweet flavours have caused concern from some experts. Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said previously: “These products are the vaping equivalent of alcopops and clearly designed to hook teenagers into an addiction.”

At the time, the UKVIA defended the use of different flavours as key to converting smokers to healthier vaping options.

Vaping devices, e-liquids and all heat-not-burn devices cannot be sold to customers under the age of 18, regardless of whether they contain nicotine or not, according to experts.

More on vaping: New vaping brands are a match for tobacco giants

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