UKVIA initiative exposes hundreds of illegal e-cigarette sellers

UKVIA initiative exposes hundreds of illegal e-cigarette sellers

According to a press release from the UK Vape Industry Association (UKVIA), authorities have targeted more than 100 suspected sellers through the UK Vape Industry Association’s (UKVIA) nationwide Be Vape Vigilant initiative. Retailers of underage and illegal e-cigarettes are sounding the alarm.

The ongoing campaign, which starts in late 2023 and is supported by Trading Standards, the Convenience Stores Association and the wider retail sector, aims to encourage legitimate businesses and the public to report from retailers and wholesalers who are believed to be flouting the law. Help cut off sales and the supply of illegal products to young people at the source.

As part of the initiative, suspected illegal traders can be reported through a new online platform. UKVIA then passes this information on to the relevant authorities, who will use the intelligence to continue targeting illegal traders. To date, 136 reports have been submitted through the platform.

Kate Pike, Trading Standards' chief officer for e-cigarettes, said: "Trading Standards relies on intelligence to deliver effective enforcement, so we are pleased that the E-Cigarette Alert Reporting Line is being used to make us aware of the illegal sale of e-cigarettes or the sale of e-cigarettes to children. People who smoke.”

More than half of those flagged businesses are non-specialist retailers, including convenience stores, corner shops, unlicensed shops and market stalls. Among the sellers reported through the platform, one was a dessert shop and another was a private residence.

Of all reports, nearly 20% were specifically related to the sale of e-cigarette products to minors, while 47% were specifically related to illegal and non-compliant products. Overall, more than a third of reported businesses were found to be guilty.

Other key figures include: 77% of retailers are brick-and-mortar sellers and 23% online; 84% of retailers are based in England, 9% in Scotland and 7% in Wales; Swansea is the area with the highest number of reports; at least Two retailers had previously been reported to Trading Standards and the police; eight of the retailers were suspected of engaging in other illegal activities such as supplying drugs and selling tobacco to minors.

UKVIA Director General John Dunn said: “I’m delighted to see so many people getting involved in the short time since the campaign launched and would like to thank all those using the Be Vape Vigilant platform to address retailers suspected of underage and illegal sales of e-cigarettes. Alert people. Many reports are actually coming from legitimate e-cigarette retailers, which shows that unscrupulous sellers are not welcome and will not be tolerated by our industry."

“The data collected from the first batch of reports supports the link between youth exposure to e-cigarettes and illegal products, with a number of retailers believed to be involved in both. Additionally, the sheer number of reports, coupled with the fact that two of the retailers The fact that it has been reported to the authorities reinforces the need for more resources and support for trading standards.”

Dunn added: “UKVIA is currently involved in a major industry-wide consultation to develop an e-cigarette retail and distributor licensing framework, which will be submitted to MPs in February, which could lead to hundreds of dollars in enforcement costs. million of additional funding and a further crackdown on illegal retailers."

“While 100 reports is a great first milestone, it is only one step in the process of building a more responsible and accountable sector, which is why UKVIA will be stepping up this activity in 2024, and calls on those inside and outside the industry to remain vigilant.”

As part of the 'Vape Awareness' initiative, UKVIA has also produced a range of downloadable materials that merchants can display in-store and online to mobilize the public to help bring illegal retailers and wholesalers to justice.
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