The UK Launches Plan to Crackdown on Underage Vape Sales

In response to concerns about the rise of disposable vapes among teens, the UK government will be launching plans to make the products less accessible to minors.

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has recently asked the UK government to enforce existing laws on vape retailers, and fine those who illegally sell to minors. The proposals were released in response to a statement by the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards (CTSI) calling for urgent support and clarification from the government “as the scale of non-compliant vapes and the concerns around underage sales are snowballing and getting out of hand.”

Earlier this month, Vice-president of policy for the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, Dr Mike McKean, said that vaping in the UK has reached epidemic proportions. He said that the problem is evident for everyone to see as walking past any school you can see youngsters vaping.

New laws not deter adults from using disposables to quit smoking
While ASH chief executive, Deborah Arnott, has recently reiterated that despite safer than cigarettes, vapes are not risk free and teens should not have easy access to them. However, she added, any regulatory changes should not deter adults from using them as smoking cessation aids. ASH has also called for plainer packaging.

In fact in order to tackle the increase in disposable vapes amongst teens, U.K. ministers have been considering setting in place a new tax on vaping products. The considered proposals also include further regulations on plain packaging as suggested by ASH, marketing and flavours.

Meanwhile, a bill to ban disposables was presented to parliament on February 8th and was due for a second reading on March 24th. However the bill never made it to the second reading where MPs would have debated it. ECigIntelligence explained that the measure had little chance of passing given that it was just a private member’s bill, not a government initiative. Moreover, Junior environment minister Rebecca Pow said the UK government has no plans to ban disposables.

A grant of £3m has been allocated to tackle the issue of disposable vapes
However, Health Minister Neil O’Brien voiced his concern about the rising use of disposable vapes. To this effect, £3m have been allocated to tackle the issue. This will include test purchases by trading standards officers in a bid to catch any retailers selling to under-18s. Announcing the plan at a recent Policy Exchange O’Brien said that an “illicit vapes enforcement squad” will be conducting these checks at convenience and vape shops across England.

The squad will also be issuing guidance on how to ensure the laws are being complied with, as well as confiscating any illegal products found. In response to the announcement, Arnott said she was pleased the government has “finally announced funding for enforcement to tackle the scourge of underage sales”.