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Inverness e-cigarette retailer VPZ backs calls for £10k fine for selling vapes underage

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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VPZ director Doug Mutter.
VPZ director Doug Mutter.

VPZ, a major Scottish vapes and e-cigarette retailer, has responded to the Scottish Government’s plans to tackle youth vaping.

The problem locally was exposed by an investigation into underage vaping by Inverness Courier journalist Iona MacDonald, where she went into Inverness city centre shops to see if she could buy vapes underage.

She managed to buy vapes at two out of the seven shops she visited without ID, raising alarm bells for how accessible the nicotine product is to children. Following the investigation, there has been increasing concern around youth vaping, as well as the environmental impact of disposable vapes – with five million being thrown away every week in the UK.

The Scottish Government has since announced a consultation on potentially banning disposable vapes altogether, but major vapes retailer VPZ doesn't agree with these plans.

Whilst VPZ says it has welcomed plans to tackle youth uptake of vaping, the retailer believes that a licensing and controls regime will have a much greater impact.

Director Doug Mutter also recommended a minimum £10,000 fine for any retailer breaching regulations.

Mr Mutter said: “We welcome any move that brings targeted action on youth vaping and a clear focus on the irresponsible retailers which are supplying to youths throughout the country. However the plans being considered by the Scottish Government are ill-thought and won’t help us reach our smoke free ambitions. It really is time that we had a considered strategy that protects young people whilst ensuring vaping meets its potential as a key smoking cessation tool.

"We believe that this can be achieved through a progressive licensing and controls regime for physical and online retailing where an appropriate challenge 25 policy is in place and consultation is aimed towards adult smokers and vapers.

“It's also vitally important to follow best practices from countries like New Zealand, where flavoured products can only be sold from specialist licensed vaping stores.

"As the country’s leading retailer we have made these recommendations to the Scottish Government for the past 24 months. Despite our efforts to positively engage, they have yet to listen and take up our offer of meaningful and strategic dialogue. It’s disappointing, as we have a huge opportunity to get this right and transform the health of the nation.”

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