A Licence to Sell: Would it be good or bad for the future of Vaping?

There are currently 2 problems within the vaping industry that don’t seem to be going away, and the coverage of these problems within the media is becoming more prevalent unfortunately. These problems being;

The sale of counterfeit vaping products in shops that are not reputable vape retailers and the sale of disposable vapes to underage users.

Back in 2021, UKVIA made a suggestion in a publication that premises should require a licence to sell vape related products in a bid to combat the above mentioned from continuing to happen. In this article, I’m going to look at whether this would be a good or a bad thing if it was imposed, and whether or not it would actually work.

The Blueprint for Better Regulations

I mentioned above about the UKVIA publication launched in 2021 entitled The Blueprint for Better Regulations and within this article they made a suggestion on the introduction of retailers requiring a licence to sell vaping products, as well as tobacco products to try and discourage the people selling counterfeit products, or selling them to underage users, which I’ll get into a little bit further into this article.

You can read this publication in more detail HERE

The sale of counterfeit vapes is increasing

Trading standards across the country are working tirelessly to try and crackdown and stop the sale of counterfeit disposable vapes as well as other vaping products within the UK. It’s been reported that Trading Standards officers have successfully raided shops that are openly breaking the law by selling Disposable Vapes with 50mg nicotine content or with a 4.5ml juice capacity.

These shops in questions are not speciality shops, and are commonly either discount stores or mobile phone repair stores. Hundreds and thousands of pounds worth of counterfeit vaping products have been seized from these shops across the country and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Selling to underage users

Unfortunately, it’s not just selling counterfeit gear that gets these types of shops a bad reputation, as they are also the main shops openly selling vapes to underage users, which then gets reported within the news.

ASH and Trading Standards have carried out multiple test purchases in these shops by sending in an underage user to try and buy a disposable vape, and have had multiple “success” sales of the underage volunteer being supplied with vape related products.

Vaping has historically had a lot of bad press in the past, and it had started to ease up a touch until the recent boom in popularity of Disposable vapes led to the negative press returning of vaping is bad for your health, and sadly it’s being exasperated even more so with these non-specialist stores having a blatant disregard for the law and selling counterfeit goods to people, especially those underage.

Is it time to get Licenced?

Reading the report from UKVIA, there’s no denying they are firmly behind the idea of licencing being introduced to the Vaping industry, but what would that entail?

UKVIA have suggested shops would pay a small fee in order to be a licenced retailer to sell vape devices. They also suggest that this licence fee money would go straight to the MHRA to help enforce vaping regulations and not be gobbled up by the Government. A controversial idea that has some positives to it, but in my opinion, some negatives also. Let’s take a look at the positives and potential negatives below;

Trading Standards would benefit from it

As I’ve written in my other articles surrounding them, Trading Standards are massively understaffed and overworked, and are in desperate need of some financial intervention from the Government to be able to keep up the fantastic work they are doing, and making it even better by having more person-power and cracking down even harder on these store flouting the rules.

A suggestion from myself would be the licencing money could go towards helping the Trading Standards better the operations they are already running. More people on the ground, more enforcement power, and less counterfeit products being sold by cowboys.

Also if a store had a licence, they’d be less inclined to break the rules of said licence, so it could alleviate some pressure on the amount of work that they have to do on carrying out inspections etc. I’m not saying they would stop completely, but it would certainly make their jobs easier if they had more people to investigate complaints. And also, if a premises did break the rules they would have their licence revoked and it would be easier for Trading Standards to clamp down on them.

More consequences for offenders

It’s reported that the penalties given to offenders aren’t enough to stop repeat offences taking place. Penalties of a slap on the wrist or very minimal fines aren’t enough to deter the perpetrators from doing it again and again.

So, would the loss of licence be enough to stop these cowboys from breaking the law? I’m not sure it would, but it might well be, it’s hard to say to be honest, but I’d like to think it would be enough. 

Business costs could increase

The costs of running a business is something that’s constantly increasing, even more so in today’s cost of living crisis with rising energy bills going up and up and business rates being affected also, so would an additional cost such as a licence fee be the right thing for businesses?

Whilst the fee might not have to be a lot to pay out, it could be deemed an unnecessary cost for some business that could not afford it.

It could limit availability of vaping devices

If some shops opt against paying a licence fee, they then wouldn’t be eligible to sell vaping devices. So the outlets for people to get their vaping goods will start to dwindle down which could have a negative effect on the number of vapers which is currently at an all time high in the UK.

Conclusion

This is a really difficult topic for me to side on the either for or against as both sides have pretty strong arguments.

I wouldn’t want to see the fee imposed and people opting against it in protest, or fear of adding a cost to their business and choosing to stop stocking vaping products. But on the other hand, I would like to see these businesses have more consequences for distributing counterfeit products as well as selling to underage users.

It’s food for thought for the future if things don’t improve, but I would say as it stands with the current state of the economy, it’s something that could be left on the back burner for now.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this, feel free to leave a comment below to share your views and thoughts!

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