Challenge 25 is a law in the United Kingdom that requires anyone who looks under 25 to show a valid form of ID before they can buy alcohol, which in turn is also requested from anyone who would like to purchase cigarettes or cigarette alternatives like vaping products.
If you look under 25, you will be asked to prove your age by showing an ID card issued by a government agency. If you don't have one, you'll be refused service.
The impact of Challenge 25
As a retailer, you may be wondering about the impact of the new Challenge 25 law on your ability to sell e-cigarettes. The two main ways that this could affect your ability to purchase e-cigarettes are:
1) If you're under 18 (the legal age for buying e-cigarettes in the UK), then a retailer may ask for proof of age before selling e-cigarettes to you. This means that if you're caught without ID when trying to buy e-cigarettes, then they won't sell them to you because they're not required by law to sell anything without ID.
2) If a retailer suspects that someone looks under 25 but doesn't have any form of proof of their age, then they might refuse service
In short, it's illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase e-cigarettes in the UK. This means that if you're caught without ID when trying to buy e-cigarettes, then they won't sell them to you because they're not required by law to sell anything without ID.
Are the rules the same across the UK?
England and Wales
In England and Wales, it is illegal to sell vape products (including e-liquids or devices) to anyone under the age of 18. There is an exception for nicotine vapour products that are licensed as medicines or medical devices. An adult who buys or attempts to buy tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products on behalf of someone under 18 commits an offence. This is called ‘proxy purchasing’ and it is the buyer and not the trader who commits an offence under these circumstances.
If you are selling vape products online, you will need to ensure that you are only selling them to those who can legally purchase them. In addition, you should always have a robust age verification process in place for all customers who order from your website. This will help prevent underage sales as well as making sure that only adults are able to purchase from your business.
In Scotland, the legal requirements for vape products are more onerous than they are in other parts of the UK. As a result, the penalties for non-compliance are stiffer. Here's what you need to know:
It is illegal to sell vape products to anyone under the age of 18. There is an exception for nicotine vapour products that are licensed as medicines or medical devices. It is an offence for staff under the age of 18 to make a sale without written authorisation.
It is a legal requirement for businesses to have an age verification policy in place.
It is illegal to sell vape products via a vending machine. Digital Age Verification is not currently permitted for sales of vape products in Scotland.
Despite having publicly consulted on the issue, Northern Ireland currently has no age of sale restrictions. The UKVIA therefore recommends that members in Northern Ireland follow the rules for England and Wales.
Northern Ireland and Scotland are the two areas in the United Kingdom that do not have an age of sale restriction for e-cigarettes. This means that anyone can legally buy and sell e-cigarettes in Northern Ireland without any restrictions on age. Scotland has set its own age limit at 18 years old.
The UK government's Tobacco Control Plan states that they will be consulting on whether to introduce an age limit for e-cigarettes in England, but it has yet to take any action on this front.
The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) sets out requirements for e-cigarette packaging across Europe, requiring health warnings and labelling information about ingredients used in e-liquids and nicotine content levels. However, it does not include any specific rules regarding how young people can purchase e-cigarettes or what they can contain once they reach adulthood.
Challenge 25 resources
The UKVIA has released a comprehensive guide for the vape industry specifically, and a good run down of everything you need to know can be found here.
In short, under the new 'Challenge 25' law, retailers will be required to check the age of anyone who looks under the age of 25 before selling them e-cigarettes. This means that if you're caught without proof of your age when trying to buy e-cigarettes, then they won't sell them to you. So, get your cards ready!