Japan Tobacco International’s (JTI) youth access prevention scheme called “IDentify”, which aims to reduce the number of independent retailers ‘At Risk’ of selling tobacco and vaping products to minors, has found that two thirds of UK Vape Stores are ‘At Risk’ of selling to minors.

JTI worked with Age Check Certification Services Ltd (ACCS), the UK’s leading provider of compliance services for providers of age restricted goods and services, to expand the current scheme to check compliance in the independent vape channel.

The test purchasing took place in Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and the West Midlands. Test purchasers were sent in to check whether retailers were following “Challenge 25” best practice – where retailers ask for proof of age if the customer appears to be under the age of 25. In those stores found to be “At Risk” of selling to minors, training was offered on behalf of JTI. The free-of-charge professional training is provided by fully qualified ACCS Trading Standards professionals and is designed to help the retailer comply with all relevant legislation and maintain their status as a responsible retailer.

Test purchasers visited 344 retail outlets with 234 stores subsequently receiving compliance advice and support. Of the areas visited, Cardiff had the highest levels of compliance with 67% of stores correctly challenging for proof of age. However, in London compliance rates dropped to 19% of stores that followed the “Challenge 25” best practice.

Charlie Cunningham-Reid, JTI UK Corporate Affairs & Communications Vice President, comments; “Our IDentify scheme aims to tackle the problem of underage sales by providing training and support for retailers; in particular to smaller, independent retailers who often don’t have the resources to provide the same level of staff training that larger stores do.” 

“There can be no excuses when it comes to underage sales, but we recognise that retailers’ jobs aren’t easy. This programme demonstrates JTI’s continued commitment to supporting retailers and preventing minors from having access to vaping products.” 

Over 2019, JTI’s “IDentify” programme saw test purchases carried out in over 1,200 stores. As the UK’s number 1 tobacco manufacturer, JTI supports a range of initiatives aimed at preventing under-age sales. In addition to the “IDentify” programme, JTI’s sales force is on hand to offer advice and guidance to independent retailers. The sales force is able to offer a free of charge 18+ “Vaping Tool Kit” which includes; information on checking for proof of age, a refusals register and “Challenge 25” signage.

JTI recognises that retailers require continued support in preventing under-age sales and as such, plan to further expand their “IDentify” programme in 2020.

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