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CTSI welcomes LGA’s call for stronger rules to prevent underage vape sales

Posted 11/02/23

The Trading Standards body supports stricter regulation of the display and positioning of vapes in retail premises.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has welcomed some of the recommendations by the Local Government Association (LGA) for the strengthening of rules governing the sale of vapes and vaping products to young people. 
At present, the law forbids retailers from selling vapes to people under the age of 18, but there are no restrictions on the placement or display of vapes and vaping products within retail premises. It is recommended that retailers keep vapes out of the reach of children, but currently there is no legal requirement for them to do so. 
CTSI acknowledges that while vaping poses far less risk than smoking tobacco – which remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death in the UK – and vapes can be an effective means of helping smokers to quit, there is a need for better regulation to ensure that vapes do not get into the hands of children and create nicotine dependence in a new generation.  
CTSI is supportive of measures which would minimise the appeal of vapes to people under the age of sale. CTSI is currently exploring what would be most effective, and supports the LGA’s call to keep vaping products out of reach of children and out-of-sight behind the counter. CTSI also supports the LGA’s call for mandatory age-of-sale signage on vaping products.
Trading Standards services across the UK have been inundated with examples of illicit vapes and underage vape sales, with 60% of CTSI members saying high street shops selling illicit vapes or vaping products to children was the enforcement issue that most concerned them.
In the last few weeks alone:
• a temporary closure notice was issued against a shop in Mansfield after it repeatedly sold vaping products to children
• three businesses were caught selling vapes to children in Barking and Dagenham
• Trading Standards figures revealed a rise in sales of vaping products to children
• a shop in South London lost its licence after allegedly selling vapes to children.
Veronica McGinley, CTSI Lead Officer for age-restricted sales, said: “The current regime of unrestricted displays and flavours has led to bright, colourful and attractive displays of products which are clearly aimed at the youth market and advertised as a desirable lifestyle product rather than a smoking cessation aid. Couple this with the explosion onto the market of single-use vapes which are cheap and easy to use, and we have created the perfect storm, leading to Trading Standards Officers across the country fielding complaints from parents about children as young as 13 accessing vapes. 
“Whilst vapes can be a valuable tool in smoking cessation it was never intended that they be marketed as a lifestyle product and attract a whole new generation of young people who have never smoked. These products, whilst safer than traditional tobacco products, are not without risk. They can lead to nicotine dependence and their long-term effects are as yet unknown.
“More than 10 years ago a successful ban on the display of tobacco products was implemented to protect children and allow a tobacco-free generation to grow up. The current displays of vapes are reminiscent of what we had for tobacco before the ban and will, if left uncontrolled, lead to a whole new generation addicted to nicotine.”
John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI, said: “Given the mounting concerns, it is entirely sensible for there to be a tightening of the rules around the sale of vapes to clamp down on underage sales. We have heard from Trading Standards teams and concerned parents up and down the country about the worrying rise in vaping among young people, as well as the steady increase in the availability of illicit vaping products.   
“We do have concerns about the deliberate marketing and promotion to a new generation of non-smokers, with bright colours, novelty flavours and positioning of products next to sweets and confectionery. Some form of licensing or registration scheme which sets out who can sell vapes should also be considered. We encourage all retailers to behave responsibly, and warn those that break the law that Trading Standards can and will prosecute you.”


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