Should Vape Shops Require a License to Operate?

Vaping has come leaps and bounds with continued interest and success for smokers looking to quit cigarettes. However, the industry has recently come under scrutiny from MPs and other government agencies in the UK who are concerned about the problem of underage sales and illegal products.

As a result, some have suggested that changes need to be made. Whether this be flavour bans, plain packaging, increased fines or other methods, there is much to discuss. We take a brief look at the latest news and would be grateful to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Current issues facing the vaping industry

Underage vaping, or the sale of vape products to minors, is one of the biggest issues facing the UK industry today. ASH Smokefree has reported its findings on youth vaping which has caused much concern among some parties. It is important that retailers take extra care to ensure that all customers are of legal age before selling them vaping products, as doing so could lead to serious consequences for both the shop and the customer.

Another major issue facing the industry is the availability of illegal or counterfeit vape products on the market. This can pose a serious health risk to users and could also damage a retailer’s reputation.

Suggestions are given to MPs on tackling the issues

Recent news has begun to crop up surrounding the issue of underage vaping in the UK, with many believing it’s rapidly growing out of control. Therefore there has been urging by trade companies and charities to instil harsher penalties for selling to underage users, excise duties and tax, and even the potential for retail licenses.

While some are suggesting a move to plain packaging and limiting flavours, a move that has been widely disputed by the vaping industry as detrimental, the UKVIA has suggested licensing could be the best possible solution. The reason is simply that the issue of children accessing vapes has always been that – access. Hopes are that introducing a license for vape retailers, much like that needed for selling alcohol, would help limit underage vaping. The UKVIA also suggested increasing the fines to at least £10,000 for those who are caught flouting the rules.

What can retailers do to help

While an agreement is yet to be met on how this will be handled, there are several steps that retailers can take in order to ensure they are compliant with current regulations. These include:

  • Investing in age-verification tools: Many retailers are now investing in age-verification tools to help them ensure that all customers are of legal age before purchasing vape products. New technology has given rise to apps that can help users correctly age-verify customers by their ID.
  • Rethinking shop layouts: Some shops are also looking at their layout and design, making sure that any displays or signs displaying vaping products are only visible to adults over the age of 18. This includes moving vape products to behind the counter or having designated sections for vaping products.
  • Training for staff: Retailers should also make sure that all staff members receive appropriate training on how to identify underage customers and handle illegal products if they arise. Being aware of the regulations and any legislation changes are key for avoiding issues.


The introduction of a license requirement for vape shops in the UK could have a major impact on the industry, but there are steps that retailers can take to ensure they comply with any regulations that may be introduced. By investing in age-verification tools, rethinking shop layouts and providing appropriate training for staff, retailers can help ensure their businesses are compliant with any new regulations that may be introduced.

Overall, the introduction of a licensing requirement is likely to have a positive effect on the industry, creating a safe and secure environment for both customers and retailers. However, it remains to be seen what regulations may be introduced in the future. Let us know what you think in the comments below.