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The Trading Standards needs a significant funding injection of £168,340,000 over five years if it is to fully enforce vape legislation across the UK, according to an analysis commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores.

This figure represents a nearly three-fold increase in net budgets for the Trading Standards and takes into consideration the cost of enforcement officers, training, detection dogs, legal fees, product disposal and more.

The UK government previously committed to a £30 million annual enforcement top-up, however, it appears “only one-third of the funding boost would have actually been assigned to Trading Standards” and that this is “nowhere near the estimates laid out by the ACS analysis and a far cry from what is needed to crack down on rogue vape traders,” UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) explained.

The trade body long been calling for greater enforcement and stronger action against the unscrupulous sellers who put consumers, young people and the industry at risk by blatantly flouting the law.

It said that in fact, it is estimated that the Trading Standards services in England would need three times that amount to enforce ‘just the current vaping regulations’, never mind any future policy that may be introduced, including the ban on disposables.

The industry has developed a ’first-of-its-kind’ vape retail and distributor licensing framework which aims to generate upwards of £50 million in annual self-sustaining funding, at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

This money would be used to support under-resourced Trading Standards and fuel a proactive national programme of enforcement.

The scheme would also:

  • Prevent inappropriate businesses – such as takeaways, taxi ranks, hairdressers and sweet shops – from selling vaping products.
  • Ensure retailers meet and maintain a strict set of compliance requirements across youth access prevention, product standards, marketing and environmental obligations before being given a licence.
  • Bring into force more impactful fines of up to £10,000 and £100,000 for retailers and distributors who fail to meet regulations – they would also face the ultimate punishment of losing their licence and the right to sell vapes.

John Dunne UKVIA Director General highlighted the need for a huge funding boost to empower Trading Standards officers to tackle illegal vape sellers: “Trading Standards officers – a cost that the UK government has yet failed to meet, but one that could be covered by the sector’s comprehensive licensing framework.

“It’s rare for an industry to advocate for its own regulation, but we have and will continue to call on the government to introduce a vape licensing scheme because it is what is needed to back effective enforcement and to usher in a new age of accountability for our sector. Let’s support Trading Standards with adequate funding; let’s stop underage and illicit vape sales for good; let’s licence to kill the black market.”

To further support Trading Standards, the UKVIA has also rolled out its national Be Vape Vigilant initiative, which encourages and provides a platform for vapers, smokers, parents and the general public to flag up retailers suspected of underage and illicit vape sales.

Information gathered through the scheme is passed onto the relevant authority to be used as part of intelligence-led enforcement. To date, more than 500 reports have been submitted via the online portal.