Home Retail Retailers call for more education on vaping category | Features and analysis

Retailers call for more education on vaping category | Features and analysis

by Ozva Admin

Round table RRW 2022

Independent retailers are calling for more information on the growing vape category to help combat illicit trade.

RRW 2022 JTI Logo

In a panel discussion with leading retailers and JTI representatives as part of Convenience Store Responsible Retail Week, participants said they and their customers need more information about the vaping category as the illicit trade grows.

The retailers involved said they had been offered and requested non-compliant vaping products on a regular basis, with one shop owner saying it is a weekly occurrence to be asked for an illicit product, while another They offer it almost daily.

Nishi Patel of Londis Bexley said retailers are in the position of having to educate consumers about the category and what is legal and illegal. “We get a lot of customers asking if we sell the 3,500 puff vaporizers and we have to explain that they are illegal. We know other places in the area do, but we refuse to sell anything illicit. Every vape product I buy has an invoice and it’s in order, but there are a lot of people offering it in vans for cash.”

BB Nevison’s Bobby Singh agreed that education was vital to the category. “When someone walks into our store asking for vaporizers with a higher puff count, we have to explain to them that they’re illegal and it’s up to us to do it. Some customers don’t really realize they are illegal in the UK and need better education on the subject.”

Go Local Extra retailer Sasi Patel said the market is awash with illicit products and something must be done about it. “There is probably more illicit stock available than legal in the vaping sector right now. The vaping associations [UKVIA] is asking for a license to sell them, which I am in favor of, as that will make it clear who is following the rules and who is not.”

He says that a store’s lack of license involvement if they are caught selling illicit vaping products is another factor. “Even if Trading Standards raids their store, they will most likely take their stock and be done with it. There is no impact on your license.”

Sasi added that he has been deterred from reporting the sale of illicit vaping products in his area due to the time it takes and the lack of action by his local Trading Standards team.

Trudy Davies of Woosnam & Davies News also expressed her frustration at the lack of action, particularly if the Trading Standards team is looking into her business. “I used to report illicit trade on a regular basis, but nothing seemed to get done. I saw stores raided and then reopened two weeks later under new ownership, but still selling illicit products. Meanwhile, when Trading Standards is in my shop, they tell me I can’t use the term ‘Cornish Empanadas’ because my empanadas weren’t made in Cornwall.

Even though her pies are under attack, Trudy is in favor of more visits. “I understand Trading Standards is busy, but if that’s her priority rather than what a 15-year-old might be vaping, that’s very frustrating.”

It also called for more point-of-sale material to help customers learn about vaping legislation and what is compliant.

Retailers also singled out the category for flavors used by some brands that are attracting underage users.

“I see a lot of kids in school uniforms using vaporizers and even though they haven’t bought them from our stores, it’s growing more and more among that age group. I think a big problem with this is the flavors,” Nishi said. “They can get flavors like pink lemonade, cola that appeal to that age group.”

Trudy echoed this sentiment: “The flavors have become too much, they’re almost collectible at this stage and they don’t even look like vape pens, they’re more like markers school kids might put in their pencil cases and the teachers. You won’t notice.

Nishi added that there is too much disparity in advice when it comes to responsible retailing. “The London borough, where one of my stores is, promotes Challenge 25, while the Dartford borough doesn’t give us any information about underage sales. From a support point of view, they are worlds apart.

While illicit cigarettes have taken a backseat to vaping, Nishi says one of his stores still carries products. “We’ve never touched them, you can lose your reputation by selling a pack of cigarettes for £2 cheaper, it’s just not worth it.”

Nishi added that some retailers may be tempted, especially if the cost of doing business is rising. “Many stores are going through hard times: the price of everything is rising and they may be thinking that going the illicit route is the way to stay afloat.”

He said more regulation is likely once the government realizes it could be a revenue generator. “At the moment, the government is not taxing the vape category like cigarettes, but eventually they will. They will realize that they could make a lot of money vaping and that is when the red tape will kick in and they will put more money into their app.”

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