With the general proliferation of online sales in the last six months, the vaping industry is seeing more online orders than ever. This poses new challenges for retailers selling vaping products online who may be more accustomed to traditional in-person checks.

To ensure your potential online sales don’t go up in a cloud of smoke, read on to discover:

  • the legal age for vaping in the UK,

  • UK Vaping Laws for online retailers, and

  • how to be legally compliant when selling online.

Vaping in the UK: What Is The Legal Age?

To vape in the UK, the user must be 18 years of age or over.

UK Vaping Laws For Online Retailers.

New laws that directly influence vaping retailers were introduced in 2015. To quote the government guidance:

Rules about tobacco, e-cigarettes and smoking: 1 October 2015

On 1 October 2015, it became illegal:

  • for retailers to sell electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or e-liquids to someone under 18

  • for adults to buy (or try to buy) tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under 18.

These laws apply to both purchases made in physical stores as well as online. As a result, online retailers must properly verify the age of the customers before selling their products to remain on the right side of the law.

With the failure to comply potentially resulting in a £2,500 maximum fine, getting it wrong could get very expensive very quickly!

Legal Compliance When Selling Vaping Products Online.

While the law is clear that only adults can use and purchase vaping products, it’s crucial for retailers to understand how they are expected to comply with UK vaping laws as sellers of these products.

For online stores, this is more difficult as they obviously don’t have physical contact with the customer in order to verify age via the usual means, e.g. a driving licence.

To check their own compliance, online retailers can refer to:

1. Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 1296: Online Age Checking.

Developed by the Digital Policy Alliance and British Standards Institution (BSI), PAS 1296 is the industry standard for effective age verification. It offers a code of practice for businesses that either provide age-checking services or need to use these services in order to sell their products. By following the due diligence recommendations PAS 1296 provides, businesses can ensure they are fully compliant with the law.

2. Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA) Code Of Conduct.

If you’ve outsourced your age-checking process, it might be worth seeing if your supplier is an AVPA member. Representing businesses providing age verification services, the association has a code of conduct for its members to ensure trading standards in the following areas:

  • fairness and transparency,

  • use of appropriate verification methods,

  • security and privacy,

  • accuracy, and

  • independence.

3. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to all retailers, regardless of the type of products and services sold, and is designed to ensure your customers’ personal data is held safely and securely. As such, this legal framework applies when you are verifying your customers’ age during the selling process. Any measures you take must be compliant with GDPR regulations.

Drawing Breath & Next Steps.

While vape sellers must comply with the UK Laws, this need not be a time-consuming and expensive process to manage. For Shopify retailers, a highly reliable and well-priced solution exists in the Shopify App Store.

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