Vaping manufacturers have demanded £10,000 fines for any retailers caught selling e-cigarettes to kids as part of an industry-proposed crackdown on the ever-growing crisis.
Despite it being illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) says ‘unscrupulous retailers’ continue to flout the rules.
It has demanded ‘on the spot’ personal fines for directors and owners of offending retailers, calling for a penalty-hike of four times the current limit of £2,500.
‘No more knuckle wrapping, it’s time to hit the offenders where it hurts hardest – in the pocket,’ said UKVIA’s director general John Dunne.
The body, which represents brands like Juul and Geek Bar, also called for mandatory registration for all vape retailers and regular purchase testing to see whether they are age-checking under-18s, in a bid to better police the issue.
NHS Digital, which quizzed nearly 10,000 students aged 11 to 15 on their smoking, drug and drinking habits last year, found that nine per cent currently vape — the highest rate logged since the survey began in 2014
The vaping industry has demanded £10,000 fines for any rogue retailers caught selling e-cigarettes to children in a crackdown on the ever-growing crisis (stock image)
The three-point plan to crackdown on child vaping epidemic
1. On the spot fines of up to £10,000 for retailers who sell to under-18s (currently £2,500) with directors and owners of retail businesses
2. A compulsory retail registration scheme, with stringent qualifiers to join, education programmes for those selling vapes and the ability for Trading Standards to rescind registration for repeat offenders
3. A National Test Purchasing Scheme, whereby retailers are regularly tested to see whether they are selling to under-18s.
Retailers would be subject to stringent qualifiers to join the compulsory fee-paying registration scheme and have to undertake education programmes for selling vapes.
If not followed, this would give Trading Standards the ability to rescind registration for repeat offenders, removing their ability to sell vaping products.
Mr Dunne said: ‘It’s time to get tough on those who are getting away scot-free and making lots of money from continuously breaking the law.
‘By allowing Trading Standards to police the retailers more robustly and more effectively, I believe we can make a dramatic difference to the issue of vaping amongst young people. ‘
He added that the proposals are designed to not only deter ‘rogue retailers’ but allow Government to properly police the problem through Trading Standards enforcement officers.
Almost one in 10 secondary pupils are now regular vapers — double the proportion in 2014.
Almost every high street in the country now has a designated vape shop and e-cigarettes are sold for as little as £5 in virtually all newsagents.
Unlike tobacco, however, the devices don’t need to be hidden behind shutters, despite some containing as much nicotine as a 50 cigarettes.
They are often sold in glossy displays and come in a variety of colours and child-friendly names and flavours, such as bubble-gum, jelly babies and strawberry milkshake.
Adam Afriyie, MP For Windsor and vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping said the proposals are ‘just what is needed’ as youth vaping has ‘no place in society’ and restricting access to the products is key.
‘The Government banned the sale of vapes to children back in 2015, but the worrying rise in usage amongst young people means that more must be done to effectively police the sale of these products in accordance with the law,’ Mr Afriyie said.
‘Coming down hard on retailers who sell vapes to children is the right thing to do.’
The proposals come after the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards (CTSI) issued a statement 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’.
Mr Hassett stressed his concern at children not being fully aware of the contents of e-cigarettes, with many so anxious for their next ‘fix’ they are begging teachers to let them vape at school
One in 10 secondary school pupils are now vape-users, despite the uncertainty surrounding their long-term impact on health
The CTSI said: ‘Trading Standards teams are spread very thinly enforcing laws on a range of issues, from food standards to product safety. We need more boots on the ground to help enforce regulations.’
And concerns over fake products were also raised, as Trading Standards said the prevalence of ‘non-compliant and counterfeit’ vapes has risen rapidly.
But they claimed they do not have enough enforcement officers to adequately tackle the issue, calling for ‘greater resource, stronger powers and bigger penalties’.
Despite it being illegal to sell e-cigarettes to under-18s, their use has been surging for years. Figures show rates have tripled in less than a decade.
And a report from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) last year found the proportion of children aged 11 to 17 currently vaping jumped from 4 per cent in 2020 to 7 per cent in 2022.
In 2013, just 3 per cent of children aged 11 to 15 had ever vaped, but this rose to 8 per cent in 2020 and 10 per cent in 2022.
And recent data showed that vape sensors installed in schools are being set off as much as 22 times a day.
Health officials have highlighted the ‘appalling’ marketing tactics of vape retailers, claiming their bright colours and cartoons gear them towards children.
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