Two thirds of UK vape stores could be at risk of selling to minors, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has warned, after a test puchasing exercise.

JTI worked with Age Check Certification Services (ACCS) to expand its IDentify scheme, which monitors compliance in tobacco sales, 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, JTI offered free-of-charge training designed to help retailers comply with all relevant legislation.

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 and communications vice president, commented: “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.”

JTI’s 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.