Vapes are devices that heat a nicotine-containing e-liquid to generate an aerosol. This guide explains how to source and sell vapes/e-cigarettes responsibly.
Checking Legitimate Products
The ‘Selling Vapes Responsibly’ guide includes everything that retailers need to know to recognise legitimate products, as well as the age verification policies that should be in place to ensure that products are only sold to those who are legally allowed to purchase them.
Some of the key areas highlighted in the guide include:
- Look out for the number of puffs claimed on a disposable device. If it’s more than around 600, it’s not allowed to be on the UK market
- Check the warnings. If they don’t cover 30% of the front and back of the pack, it’s not allowed to be on the UK market
- Check the wording of the warnings. There’s only one phrase that’s allowed on pack warnings in the UK, which is ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance’. If the warning says anything other than this, it’s not allowed to be on the UK market
If you are unsure about the legitimacy of an e-cigarette product, you can check to see whether it's on the MHRA list here: https://cms.mhra.gov.uk/ecig.
This tool allows you search by brand name, product type and product name.
E-cigarettes are age-restricted products by law. The minimum age to purchase is 18. Any retailer who sells an e-cigarette to someone under the age of 18 is committing an offence, and both the business owner and staff members who made the sale can be penalised.
ACS recommends the use of Challenge 25 policies for all age restricted sales. Challenge 25 is a store policy based on two simple principles:
- All staff serving customers should be trained to ‘think 25’. This means if a customer is seeking to buy an age restricted product (of any kind), the staff member should ask themselves the question – ‘does the person in front of me look like they might be under the age of 25 years?’ If the answer is yes, then they should ask the person for a valid proof of age. If the identification confirms they are over the legal age of purchase for that product, then it can be sold to them.
- The store policy is clearly communicated to customers, usually through the use of visible in-store signage.
It is an offence for an adult to purchase nicotine inhaling products on behalf of someone under age. This is commonly called a ‘proxy sale’. You should consider adopting a common approach to identifying and preventing proxy sales across all age restricted products.
All retailers who sell vapes (regardless of type of store) must provide a recycling facility for consumers to bring back used or unwanted vapes.
Previously, retailers who sold less than £100,000 of vapes and other EEE (electrical and electronic equipment) were able to be part of the Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS), which involved displaying information for consumers about places where they could recycle their electricals. While DTS is still in operation for other electricals, vapes have been taken out of the scheme and now require all stores providing the product to also provide a way for customers to recycle them.
At a minimum, retailers have to provide a recycling facility on a one-for-one basis, meaning that a retailer only has to accept a vape for recycling if the customer is purchasing a new one. Many retailers will opt to provide a bin or container in-store for anyone to return their vapes, which is also permitted.
ACS has developed detailed guidance on operating a vape recycling service, which can be downloaded here.
ACS has also developed a template poster for retailers to display in their store, which is available here.