UK Vape Association Launches Initiative Encouraging The Reporting of Non-Complaint Vape Firms

Non-complaint vape retailers selling illicit products and/or legal products to underage youngsters, have been a sore in the backside to all stakeholders, from lawmakers to worried parents, all the way to honest vape businesses. A new campaign aiming to make it easier to report these law breaking individuals/firms has been launched recently.

While most vape businesses are built on honest intentions and aim to help people quit smoking, sadly others are solely trying to capitalize on the current popularity of the products in order to make as much money as possible. The latter are creating serious issues for all stakeholders: from the naïve minor wanting to buy a vape at all costs in order to look cool, to the rule-adhering businesses who are as a result being met with suspicion and scepticism, with regards to the integrity of their businesses models.

These non-compliant businesses have long been urged by the industry to change their ways for the sake of public health as well as that of the survival of the industry. Sadly reports of vape firms conducting illegal practices have never ceased emerging. In fact, a recent review looking into how minors in countries with tobacco age limits or bans manage to obtain vapes, found that buying the products in person from vape shops is still more common than buying online.

Be Vape Vigilant
To this effect, last November, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) introduced the “Be Vape Vigilant” initiative, which urges legitimate retailers and the public to report businesses involved in underage or illicit vape sales. Supported by the Association of Convenience Stores, the campaign has already gathered over 100 reports to date.

The UKVIA collaborated with Trading Standards (an organization formed to recieve reports about illicit businesses, investigate them and take any required action) to address youth access to vaping and illicit sales. Recent research by Arcus Compliance, a UKVIA member, emphasized the need for increased resources for local enforcement teams. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) highlighted that 1 in 3 vape products may be non-compliant, with one-third of shops knowingly selling to minors.

The complaint vape industry needs your help
The campaign aims to counter the negative impact of unscrupulous sellers on the vaping sector, and their interference with its mission for a smoke-free future. The UKVIA emphasizes the importance of public involvement to combat rogue retailers and wholesalers.

“Most retailers work hard to ensure they only sell to adults, so any intelligence which enables us to target enforcement at those who are breaking the law is very much welcomed.”Kate Pike, Lead Officer, CTSI

CTSI Lead Officer for Vaping, Kate Pike, expressed Trading Standards‘ full support, acknowledging that most retailers diligently comply with regulations and encouraging the reporting of non-compliant or counterfeit products sold to children. “Most retailers work hard to ensure they only sell to adults, so any intelligence which enables us to target enforcement at those who are breaking the law is very much welcomed,” she added in a comment to Vaping Post.

While Director General of the UKVIA, John Dunne, emphasized the campaign’s purpose: to uphold existing laws on product compliance and prevent underage access to vapes. He said that the UKVIA is hoping for the involvement of its members in promoting the initiative and calls on all legitimate retailers to support and encourage consumers to report illicit activity.

So how does this work exactly? “All reports made through our online platform are passed to Trading Standards and can then be used to inform intelligence-led enforcement actions. To date, more than 130 suspected rogue retailers have been reported via the nationwide campaign,” Dunne told Vaping Post.

“We have been delighted with the response of Trading Standards and the wider retail sector so far and urge anyone, whether consumer, retailer, parent, teacher or the general public, to get involved and not allow unscrupulous sellers go unnoticed.”

“The UKVIA is acutely aware that Trading Standards say they simply don’t have the necessary resources to carry out the level of enforcement they would like to undertake.

This is why, in addition to the Be Vape Vigilant initiative, we have also been involved in a comprehensive consultation which has led to the development of a first-of-its-kind retailer and distributor licensing scheme for the UK sector. Such a system could enable local enforcement teams to bring the hammer down on illicit traders by generating much-needed funding, while also safeguarding young people, the legitimate sector and the adults who rely of vaping to help them stay off cigarettes.”