The vape category has been an amazing boost in terms of profitability and helping with sales but to be told that they are now going to be taken away from us is a difficult thing to swallow. All we retailers will consider now is what will happen if these products are not sold legally. Will it lead to the creation of a black market?
This is currently a major issue in Glasgow. There are still some retailers out there who sell [illicit products] and we see a post online now and again about a business that has been caught with £100,000 worth of illegal products. Some shops sell them because people are just doing what they can to survive in their business.
However, many individuals are taking advantage of the system. As a retailer, I believe that strict and structured penalties should be imposed. The authorities should say, ‘All we request is that you abide by the laws, and if you do not, this is the punishment that awaits you’.
I don’t think the answer is a ban, but rather further restrictions placed on retailers. They should go back to the companies and say stop making these types of flavours and keep them simple like your menthol and tobacco.
Allow us to trade the way we are and allow us to buy and profit. If anybody is found under solid evidence to be selling to an underage there should be a heavy fine. As soon as the fine goes a little bit higher, retailers will think twice before selling. If a youngster comes in for the sale and the business profits as little as three or four pounds, somebody isn’t willing to pay £50,000 to risk their business. Most retailers will see a fine like £50,000 as a deterrent because their business is their livelihood, and nobody would ever want to comprise that.
The government needs to be relentless in this. If you go against the rules, this is what the punishment is but the government is not doing it that way and it’ll be us that suffer.