Tobacco and vaping law changes: London Trading Standards reminds smokers and retailers

London Trading Standards are reminding smokers and tobacco retailers about changes to the law that come into full effect on 20th May 2017.

The changes cover a range of issues with the intention of cutting smoking prevalence rates and deterring take-up by young people.

  • Plain packs – all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco must be sold in standardised plain packaging with bigger health warnings. The new packaging is described as being ‘muddy green’ – apparently research has shown it to be the world’s ugliest colour
  • Pack sizes – 10 packs are banned, the minimum pack size of cigarettes will be 20. With changes to excise duty rates this means a minimum price of £8.82. The smallest hand rolling tobacco pack will be 30 grammes
  • Flavours – cigarettes and tobacco with flavourings are banned, apart from menthol which is permitted until 2020

The new rules come on top of existing tobacco control legislation, which Trading Standards officers across London already enforce, such as bans on advertising, sales of single cigarettes, sales to children under 18 and the display of tobacco products in shops.

Retailers have had one year to sell through old stock with that period ending on 19th May.  Any retailers convicted of breaking the law could be fined, or face up to a three month custodial sentence, or both. However prosecution is always the last resort for Trading Standards who will be working with businesses across London to ensure the new rules are complied with.

Vapers, e-cigarette users and retailers will also be affected by changes brought about by the European Tobacco Products Directive.

From 20th May 2017, vaping or e-shisha devices, and all refills liquids which contain nicotine will have to comply with new safety and labelling rules.

  • Producers and importers of e-devices and liquids must register them with a government agency before they are placed on the market and ensure they are supplied with safety instruction, warnings and contact details
  • Liquids that contain nicotine must be in either a dedicated container with a maximum 10ml volume or, for disposable single use e-cigarette cartridges, in a tank that has a maximum 2ml volume.
  • The liquid containers in devices and refills must be child-resistant, tamper-evident and be protected against breakage and leaking
  • The concentration of nicotine is restricted to 20mg/ml, unless the product is a registered medical device, and additives including colouring, caffeine and taurine are banned
  • Each pack and container must be labelled with ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance’ in a prescribed format and size
  • Sales of nicotine inhaling devices, and liquids containing nicotine, have been subject to a minimum purchase age restriction of 18 years since October 2015.

Steve Playle, spokesperson for London Trading Standards said:

“The new rules on packaging and pack sizes for tobacco products are likely to make vaping and e-devices more popular as smokers seek out alternatives. Improved regulation in the market is welcome as Trading Standards have raised issues about the safety of e-shisha and e-cigarettes products for some time.”

“However, e-liquids that do not contain nicotine remain unregulated and not subject to age restrictions. Concerns over their ingredients and whether they act as gateway to nicotine and tobacco products remain.”

“Disappointingly, local councils received no extra government funding for their trading standards services to police the new rules yet they will affect thousands of retail premises across London. There is also the issue of online sales and the difficultly of applying age restrictions to them.”

“Trading Standards also carry out work to combat the sale of illicit tobacco products in London, which are often counterfeit and do not meet safety standards in relation to self extinguishing.  An obvious concern is that criminals will simply ignore the new packaging legislation and continue to make tobacco products available at pocket money prices.”

“London Trading Standards are experienced in enforcing product safety regulations and tobacco control laws, even deploying tobacco sniffer dogs to detect hidden illicit stocks. We will endeavour to carry out more test purchases, inspections and advisory initiatives to protect the health and well-being of Londoners in spite of continued pressure on our resources.”

  • Anyone with information about illegal sales can report it anonymously using the LTS reporting tool.
  • Anyone wishing to try and quit smoking altogether should contact the free NHS Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84 for advice and support

Further information


Example of e-liquid with new mandatory warning statement

Example of standardised cigarette packaging


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