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The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has launched a new campaign supporting responsible retailers against rogue vape sales.

To help retailers, ACS has published new Challenge25 materials specific to the vaping category.

According to the ACS Crime Report 2023, challenging customers who look underage is one of the biggest triggers of abuse so the trade body advises that signposting retailers’ responsibilities can be an effective way of reducing the risk of confrontation. Research conducted by the ACS found that more than one in 10 retailers suspected other local businesses of selling illegal vapes.

Detailed advice for retailers on the responsible sale and recycling of vaping products, backed by Surrey and Buckinghamshire Trading Standards as part of ACS’  Assured Advice scheme, is available here.

The campaign highlights the main things to look out for when trying to spot a fake or illicit vape. These include:

  • Check the number of puffs. Anything over about 650 for a disposable could be a sign of an illicit product
  • Check the warning label. If there’s any variation on the words “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance” then it shouldn’t be on the UK market
  • Check the nicotine content. If there’s no stated content and delivery per dose, it might be fake
  • Check the manufacturer details. If there’s no legitimate name and address of the manufacturer/importer, it might be fake
  • Any retailer who’s not sure about whether products they’ve been offered are legitimate or not can also check the MHRA’s Notified Products list, which is online here:

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The vaping market has grown significantly in the last few years and is an important product category in thousands of convenience stores, but along with the growth of the legitimate market has been an explosion of rogue sellers. These businesses are sourcing illicit products from rogue distributors and failing to take their responsibilities on age restricted sales seriously.

“Through this campaign, we are sending a clear message that having a robust Challenge25 policy is the best way for retailers and their colleagues to eliminate sales to underage customers, and we’re encouraging anyone concerned about the sale of illicit products to report it straight away.”

The new Challenge25 materials, including posters, badges and shelf strips, are available here.