If there’s one thing sure to give vaping a bad name it’s underage vape sales and a new guide for retailers hopes to tackle this sticky issue.
The UK Vaping Industry Association has teamed up with the Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards team to produce the Preventing Underage Sales Guide.
Vape shops across the UK are urged to download the guide and apply the list of retail rules the partnership has come up with.
The extremely detailed guide covers:
- Current vaping age legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland;
- Use and best practice enforcement of the Challenge 25 rule;
- Issues of proxy purchasing where an adult buys on behalf of someone under 18;
- Advice on the different forms of ID that can be accepted and methods of deception to be aware of; and
- Points to consider with digital age verification.
Underage Vape Sales Guide – Challenge 25
Not only do underage vape sales attract unwanted media attention leading to virtue signalling politicians ‘demanding action‘ – any sale to a minor in the UK is classed as a criminal offence with a max £2,500 fine.
Crucially it’s also classed as a ‘strict liability offence‘ – which in effect means even if the vape shop didn’t intend to sell to someone underage – the very fact they did is all the proof required. BTW, the guide also explains the slightly different laws for vape shops in Scotland.
UKVIA says all vape shops should operate the Challenge 25 scheme which does exactly what it says!
The scheme is used in retail and pubs and keeps staff mindful that if a person buying alcohol or other covered items such as knives, they should be ‘challenged’ and asked for photo ID.
That in itself was a bone of contention recently with at least two ‘vape famous’ reviewers – one a shop owner – angry at the way the scheme was being used in vape shops.
Read my article Challenge 25 – Is It Challenging To the Vape Industry? To see what that was all about…
The UKVIA under age vape sales guide covers staff training in Challenge 25 and suggests this should be mandatory for all employees.
The guide also shows how online vape sales must be age verified and regular tests should be carried out to make sure the systems used are working.
Need For “Consistency and High Standards”
Trading Standards has worked in partnership with UKVIA on the underage vape sales guide and Jo Mahoney from the Buckinghamshire & Surrey team said:
Age verification is a challenging process for retailers, for example it can lead to situations of conflict between staff and customers, and many underage consumers know the tricks of the trade in order to purchase vape devices.
There is also the added challenge of putting in place checks when products are delivered to the home.
We have worked closely with the Youth Access Prevention team at the UKVIA to establish best practice guidance that will help retailers and their staff to be in the best position possible to deal with any attempts by underage people to purchase vape products.
The Director of UKVIA, John Dunne, said:
The legal age to buy vaping products is 18 and we want to keep it that way by making it as hard as possible for minors to get their hands on vaping devices and e-liquids.
This guide is designed to ensure consistency and high standards across the industry when it comes to age verification.
The sector has a legal responsibility to ensure vaping products don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Whilst vaping amongst minors is low, we want to ensure we don’t leave any stone unturned.
Having read the guide I can say it’s extremely detailed and every vape shop across the UK should take a look and implement the guidelines – especially Challenge 25.
Underage vaping in the UK remains extremely low, but as we have seen in America, it only takes a few hyped up media stories to get ignorant politicians bringing down the ban hammer.
It’s a no brainer for me – vape shops will and could be putting themselves out of business and the vape industry here in the UK under threat if they all don’t act professionally.
One thing I would like to see though, and that’s vape market stalls tackled in someway.
I’ve been to many over the last couple of years and watched as no challenges are made – and some of the products [especially e-liquids] look decidedly dodgy.
Personally I think these ‘unlicensed’ stalls need to be extremely carefully monitored, because IMHO – it’s a disaster waiting to happen…
Download the Preventing Underage Sales Guide here.