Tony Allen, managing director of Under Age Sales, has welcomed news that as of 1 October 2015 it will be illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.
Allen said: “We welcome the Department of Health’s decision to introduce a minimum age of 18 for sales of e-cigarettes. Children should not have access to any addictive products, and the fact that e-cigarettes contain nicotine means there should never have been any question around whether or not to put an age restriction on these products.
“There has been much debate around the safety of e-cigarettes. While it will take some time and further studies to fully understand if there is any physical damage caused by e-cigarettes, ultimately they are an addictive product containing nicotine and therefore should be an age restricted product.
“It is also essential that retailers are aware of the decision by the government to allow nicotine inhaling products that are registered as medicines for under 18s to remain on sale and to be included in the General Sales List (GSL), without a prescription. This means that in an average convenience store most e-cigarettes will be age restricted to over 18s, but there will be a small number that are registered medicines and will be permissible to sell to those younger than 18 under the exemption, potentially causing a lot of confusion to retailers.
“It’s important that retailers now receive the information and support they need to ensure they comply with the new legislation, which will come into effect as of 1 October 2015 It’s important that they understand that e-cigarettes should not be kept in the gantry with tobacco products and we would also recommend them to always ‘challenge 25’ when it comes to requesting the ID of young customers.
“Training is essential to ensure that all colleagues and retailers are prepared for the changes. There needs to be particular emphasis on the importance of the age identification as the consequences of failing to adhere to the law could be extremely harmful to a business. We advise all retailers, as part of their due diligence, to have an age verification policy document and to use refusal registers. The age verification policy needs to be explained and signed by each member of staff and refusal registers completed as and when an employee refuses a sale.”
Under Age Sales is a social enterprise that specialises in helping retailers prevent under age sales of restricted products, and assists them in achieving compliance; providing staff training, point-of-sale materials, compliance advice and support services.