Following Prime Minister’s announcement in October 2023 to create a smoke free generation, the Government has recently opened a consultation on creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping.  

What do retailers need to know?

The UK Government is consulting on bringing forward legislation making it an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009, and in Scotland it will also be an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to purchase tobacco products. This law will effectively stop children who turned 14 years old in 2023 or younger from ever legally being sold tobacco products, effectively raising the smoking age by a year each year until it applies to everyone.

What about vapes?

The UK government is consulting on several proposals on youth vaping, including:

  • Restricting flavours
  • Regulating point of sale displays
  • Considering restricting the supply and sale of disposable vapes
  • Whether regulations should extend to non-nicotine vapes
  • Taking action on the affordability of vapes

How does this affect the age of sale requirements?

Retailers should continue to ensure that the sale of these products is compliant with regulations, this means retailers are expected to continue to check for I.D. for any age-related purchases.

The UK Government, Scotland and Wales are proposing that display statements will need to be changed and will be required to read “it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009”.

What products will be in scope for the age of sale requirement of the future new regulations?

The Government is looking to expand the scope of products to include:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigarette papers
  • Hand rolled tobacco
  • Cigars
  • Cigarillos
  • Pipe tobacco
  • Waterpipe tobacco products (for example shisha)
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Heated tobacco
  • Nasal tobacco (snuff)
  • Herbal smoking products

All other products, such as vapes and nicotine replacement therapies, would be out of scope for the smokefree generation proposal as they do not contain tobacco.

What are the next steps?

The Government has called on the retail industry, and others, to submit views on Government plans and to share experiences. It is important to note here that the consultation will run for 8 weeks.

The consultation will close on 6 December 2023.

How can retailers get involved?

The BRC intends to support the industry by submitting a response on behalf of our members. We encourage retailers to contribute to our collective response.

We will be in hosting two sessions on 31/10/23:

1. Meeting with Department of Health and Social Care officials: 11:30-12:30 which you can join here.

2. Meeting with BRC members to discuss the consultation response: 15:00-16:00 which you can join here.

For further engagement please contact Product Safety Advisor, Adrian Simpson and Assistant Director for Consumer, Competition and Regulatory Affairs, Graham Wynn.

To find out more about retailers’ obligations in terms of WEEE, click here.