Disappointing results during the first wave of controls in 2016

In August 2016, among the stores selling tobacco products in the UK, 39% made illegal sales to minors and most of the infringements concerned e-cigarettes. The survey had been carried out earlier in the year by the Chartered Trading Standard Institute (CTSI) in 634 traditional tobacco retailers, discount stores, pharmacies and vape shops.

The Association of Convenience Stores (SCE) recognized that the popularity of e-cigarettes has increased in the adult population but although retailers have a strong record of preventing other age-restricted sales, the early 2016 survey clearly shows that the same systems are not being applied to e-cigarettes. Head of the SCE said: “These results are an important reminder that retailers must have strong policies in place on all age-restricted products.”

Convenience stores are now in compliance

Recent test purchases (July-September 2016) indicate that convenience stores in the UK are now in compliance with the law that bans the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. As a follow up of a previous test, the institute re-visited each business (260 in total) that did not comply with the 2015 Nicotine Inhaling Products regulations that came into force on October 2015. The survey reveals that 90% of the businesses asked for proof of age and 80% did not sell to minors.

“This is a positive step in the right direction and shows that with the right guidance and support, businesses can demonstrate good practice when selling age-restricted products.” -L. Livermore, CTSI

Leon Livermore, CTSI chief executive, confirms the good results obtained with this last test. He pinpoints the “disappointing level of compliance” recorded in the past and sees the new results obtained at stores that previously failed as “encouraging”. The UK Public Health Minister, Nicola Blackwood, who said the ministry would continue to work with trade associations and Trading Standards to provide practical advice to businesses of all sizes and to promote compliance amongst the wider retail community, sees the rapprochement between CTSI and retailers “very encouraging”. She also confirms that e-cigarettes “should only be used by smokers to quit smoking for good” and reasserts her position against the sale of nicotine products to minors.

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