Vape Licensing Scheme Proposed: Tackling Illicit Sales and Underage Access

An industry-led initiative is on the horizon to combat the surge in illicit vape sales and prevent underage access to vaping products. Following six months of consultation involving key stakeholders from the retail sector, regulatory bodies, and consumer advocacy groups, a comprehensive licensing scheme has been put forward.

Recent revelations of a nearly 20-fold increase in seized illicit vapes by UK councils since 2020 have underscored the urgency for action. Research by Vape Club uncovered over 1.5 million illegal vapes confiscated by 152 surveyed councils last year alone.

The proposed framework entails a 'self-sustaining' fee structure and strict criteria for businesses seeking licensure. Retailers and distributors alike will need to demonstrate adherence to stringent measures, including preventing sales to minors, stocking compliant products, and meeting environmental and advertising regulations.

The penalties for non-compliance will be robust, with fines ranging up to £10,000 for retailers and £100,000 for distributors, along with the potential for on-the-spot fines issued by Trading Standards. Regular test purchasing exercises and product inspections will further ensure compliance and accountability.

Dan Marchant, co-founder of the UK Vaping Industry Association, emphasizes the necessity of a balanced licensing system for effective enforcement. John Dunne, director general of the UKVIA, echoes the urgency for action, emphasising the importance of combating underage access and illicit sales while supporting adult smokers in their transition away from cigarettes.

As the proposal gains traction, it represents a significant step toward safeguarding public health, curbing the proliferation of illicit vape products and ensuring business have stringent compliance policies in place to show their due diligence.

(Source: Convenience Store, February 2024)

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