Preventing under-18s from entering Approved Vaping Premises

Specialist Vape Retailers must take all practicable steps to prevent people under the age of 18 entering their approved vaping premises.

If age verification checks are only carried out after someone under the age of 18 enters an approved vaping premises, this is almost certainly a breach of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990.

What the law says

Under section 14(2) of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 a specialist vape retailer (SVR) must take all practicable steps to prevent a person under the age of 18 years from entering the retailer’s approved vaping premises.  

What the law means

The law does not state the exact steps or measures an SVR should take. It’s up to each SVR to decide the steps to take to ensure that they comply with the requirement to prevent under 18s from entering its approved vaping premises.

What it means to take all practicable steps

All practicable steps” is a higher threshold than taking “reasonably practicable steps”.

For example, all practicable steps almost certainly would not have been taken if someone under the age of 18 is able to walk straight into a vaping premises without any measures preventing them from entry. 

Some examples of all practicable steps:    

  • clear, identifiable process and arrangements for points of entry (e.g, a controlled door release) to allow for checking for a person’s age
  • meeting people and customers at the door - a staff member is present to check the age of customers before they enter the premises
  • signage outside the retail premises that indicates under 18s are not permitted to enter

These examples are not necessarily all the measures that would meet the threshold for all practicable steps. It’s up to the SVR to consider what steps it takes to ensure that under 18s do not enter the approved vaping premises.

Best practice for Specialist Vape Retailers:

  • Controls and processes in place for each of its retail premises to prevent people who are under 18 from entering. 
  • Processes are regularly tested with all staff to check control measures remain effective.
  • Processes are documented and explain what steps are taken to ensure under 18s do not enter the store.

In store age restrictions apply to:

  • specialist vape retailers

The person responsible for the SVR is responsible for putting the measures in place at their approved vaping premises.

In store age restrictions do not apply to:

  • general retailers of vaping products such as dairies and convenience stores who have not been approved as a specialist vape retailer.

If the retail premises does not comply:

If the SVR does not take all practicable steps to prevent a person under the age of 18 years from entering the approved vaping premises, the Director General of Health may suspend or cancel the SVR approval (section 20(Q) of the Act).

The SVR may also be prosecuted upon conviction with a maximum fine of $10,000 in the case of a body corporate (e.g. a company), or $5,000 in any other case (such as an individual).  

This guidance sets out Manatū Hauora the Ministry of Health’s views, to assist regulated parties to fulfil their obligations under the Act. It does not negate the legal requirements imposed on the parties under the Act.

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