The National Federation of Retail Newsagents has expressed concern that elements within new regulations making nicotine inhaling products (e-cigarettes) age restricted will cause confusion for retailers already overburdened by red tape.

During a debate on the new measures in the House of Lords last week, Earl Howe explained that the regulations will exempt the sale of any e-cigarette that is licensed as a non-prescription medicine, including those which the licensing authority has determined are for use by children under 18. In such cases, the regulations do not require the seller to be a pharmacist, so these products can be sold by NFRN members alongside age restricted e-cigarettes.

As a result, the NFRN is calling on the government to ensure that these regulations are explained fully to retailers, so they are aware they can stock e-cigarettes which will be restricted by age of sale laws and e-cigarettes which have been granted a medical licence and can be sold to anyone regardless of their age. The Federation fears that retailers could face substantial fines if they inadvertently apply the regulations incorrectly.

NFRN national president Martyn Brown said: “We already recommend to our members that they apply age restrictions to these products, however we are concerned that the fine distinction that these regulations are introducing will not be clear to retailers who are already subject to burdensome red tape.

“We have written to the Department of Health to ensure that they take action to explain the nuances of these regulations fully.”

The Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 are expected to come into effect from 1 October 2015.