Retailers, wholesalers and distributors can take a leading role in ensuring they do not trade in non-UK compliant and counterfeit products.
Our Managing Director, Lee Bryan, warned that convenience retailers should expect much closer scrutiny in the wake of the Khan review into smoking.
All eyes are on the vaping sector since Dr Javed Khan OBE urged the government to embrace vaping as the most effective tool to help people quit smoking.
Dr Khan cautioned that vapes are not totally risk-free, but pointed out that the alternative is far worse. Vaping therefore has an important role to play in achieving the goal of a smoke-free society by 2030.
Lee warned that full regulatory compliance is critically important across the supply chain, with smaller convenience stores being particularly vulnerable.
He said: “These shops lack the knowledge and capacity to make the necessary checks for vaping products that do not meet the regulations. Vapes are just one of many product lines on their shelves.
“However, it’s not just the retailers that need to get their business in order when it comes to compliance of vape products, but wholesalers and distributors further up the chain.”
Lee pointed out how retailers, wholesalers and distributors can take a leading and proactive role in ensuring products don’t get sold to minors and that they do not trade in non-UK compliant and counterfeit products:
- Check the products have been registered with and approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Alternatively check on Vape-Click, a new digital platform, to speed up checks
- Check the product incorporates a UK batch number
- Retailers and wholesalers should ask their distributor for a copy of the compliance file they have with the manufacturer to check they are authorised to sell in the UK
- Make sure any details on identified hazards within the content of the product are communicated effectively to consumers on the packaging and they state these are in line with the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulations
- Ensure the packaging makes it very clear the products are only for sale to those who are 18 or over
- If still in doubt about the authenticity of the products you’ve purchased, some disposable manufacturers allow you to check the security code on the packaging
- Download the UK Vaping Industry Association guide for disposable vape retailers. In the UK, disposable vapes should contain no more than 20mg/ml of nicotine nor have above 2ml liquid capacity. The permissible ingredients and formulations of flavours are also closely regulated
Lee added: “In a fast-growing market, the consumer is now more knowledgeable and not so reliant on purchasing from specialist vape stores.
“Convenience stores have become extremely popular for vapers. Some of the chains have internal compliance departments, but they can’t be absolutely sure that products they are bringing in are 100% compliant.
“It is more than likely that we can expect more sophisticated enforcement coming down the line with the introduction of retail licences to trade in vape products and minimum £10,000 per instance fines for breaking vaping laws.”
Although vapes do not contain tobacco, they have been regulated by the Tobacco Products Directive since 2014, overseen by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
This article appeared in Better Retailing magazine in June 2022.
For further advice on compliance, please contact us.