UKVIA Licensing Scheme

Pioneering Vape Industry Licensing Scheme Aims to Combat Illicit Sales and Protect Youth

In a ground-breaking move, the UK vape industry is proposing a first-of-its-kind licensing scheme designed to address the surge in illicit vape sales and prevent underage access. The industry-led initiative, set to be unveiled in Parliament, responds to alarming data revealing a substantial increase in the confiscation of illegal vapes. As the government contemplates a disposable vape ban, industry experts emphasize the need for an effective enforcement strategy to curb the black market. The proposed licensing framework, developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, aims to generate over £50 million annually for enhanced enforcement to combat retailers illegally selling disposable vapes & other illicit vape products.

Illicit Vape Sales

Key Points:

  1. Illicit Vape Seizures Soar:

    • Recent FOI data exposes a nearly 20-fold increase in the seizure of illicit vapes by UK councils since 2020, with over 1.5 million illegal vapes confiscated in 2023 alone.
    • Concerns rise about the potential exacerbation of the issue with the proposed disposable vape ban.
  2. Industry-Led Licensing Scheme:

    • The proposed licensing framework is a comprehensive self-funded initiative, filling the void of a pre-existing system in the UK vaping industry.
    • Industry experts assert the crucial role of a fit-for-purpose licensing scheme in enforcing current and future regulations, particularly in the context of the disposable vape ban.
  3. Consultation and Support:

    • The framework is a result of a six-month consultation involving retail leaders, trade bodies, regulatory representatives, and consumer groups.
    • Several MPs, including Peter Gibson, Jim Shannon, Mary Kelly Foy, Mark Eastwood, and Dr Caroline Johnson, express support for the concept of a vape licensing or registration scheme.
  4. Enhanced Enforcement Funding:

    • The proposed scheme is anticipated to generate £50 million annually, providing a sustainable funding base for enforcement efforts.
    • Lack of government funding has hindered Trading Standards' ability to combat illicit vape sales, and the self-funded licensing system aims to revitalize enforcement capabilities.
  5. Licensing Criteria and Penalties:

    • To qualify for a license, retailers must implement measures to prevent underage sales, adhere to compliance standards, and meet environmental obligations.
    • A four-strike penalty system, fines up to £10,000 for retailers and £100,000 for distributors, and on-the-spot fines are proposed to deter illicit sales.
  6. Rationale for Licensing:

    • Industry leaders argue that a licensing scheme is essential for effective law enforcement, holding businesses accountable, and ensuring responsible practices.
    • The scheme draws inspiration from successful initiatives in New Zealand and other industries such as alcohol licensing.


As the vape industry faces challenges posed by a surge in illicit sales and potential regulatory changes, the proposed licensing scheme emerges as a proactive and self-sustainable solution. With the aim of protecting youth and curbing the black market, the industry-led framework seeks parliamentary consideration to usher in a new era of responsibility, accountability, and best practices in the vaping sector.


  • Read the Full Framework: Here



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