Regulate vaping to keep youth vaping incidences to a minimum, says consumer advocacy group

Fred Roeder

Fred Roeder

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 11): Regulating vaping can help keep youth vaping incidences to a minimum, said a UK-based consumer advocacy group.

In a statement today, the London-based Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said that in the UK, where vape is regulated, youth vaping incidences have been minimised.

It cited a report in 2021 by Action on Smoking and Health, which examined the use of e-cigarettes or vape among youths in Great Britain, that found that a large majority of 11 to 18-year-olds have never tried or are unaware of e-cigarettes (83%). This finding has remained consistent since 2017.

It said the survey further found that vaping is much less common among youths who have never smoked. A large majority of "never smokers" aged 11-18 years, 94.1% in total, have either never vaped (87.9%) or are not aware of them (6.2%).

In its recent policy note entitled "Age Restrictions of Vape Products", CCC recommended the following:
• Introduce smart regulations and enforce strict age restrictions on vaping devices and liquids at the points of sale
• Use modern age verification technology for online sales
• Learn from other industries such as alcohol and fireworks on how to improve compliance rates
• Retail and industry should be encouraged to be more proactive with the enforcement of rules
• Do not punish legal adult vapers for the lack of enforcement of age restrictions

CCC managing director Fred Roeder said that instead of taking drastic measures such as banning vape, which will only drive more consumers to illegal products on the unregulated black market, a more coordinated approach by both regulators and industry can and should be explored.

"We believe that the regulations with strict enforcement on no-sale to the underage marks the distinction between consenting adult consumers and those who have not reached the legal age to make these decisions," he said.

He also cited examples from the UK on how controls are put in place to stop the underage from purchasing products with age restrictions.

An example of such a solution is AgeChecked, a UK-based secured online age verification system that requests a buyer's full name, billing address, and date of birth when placing an order.

This information must be entered as it will appear on the buyer's driver's license, electoral roll, or be used for a UK credit card, he said.