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Protecting kids from vaping: how we do it

Protecting kids from vaping: how we do it

John Boughey |

E-cigarettes are a groundbreaking technology in the fight against tobacco … but they should only ever be used by adults who are trying to quit smoking. Laws already exist to protect under-18s from vaping, yet underage vaping is widespread in the UK. 

In this week’s article, we’ll explain the technology we use to prevent children from buying e-liquid or vapes on our site. We’ll share new research on who’s behind the illegal sales of vape kit to underage vapers in England, and give our opinion on what needs to happen next. 

Age rules for buying vapes

It is against the law for under-18s to buy vapes in Britain. Shops can’t sell vapes to kids, nor can they sell vapes to adults who they suspect will give the vape to a child. This has been the law for almost a decade: in October 2015, the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 made it an offence to sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids to Children (source: 

The law is crystal-clear, but we still have problems with underage vaping in the UK (source: We’ll explain the reasons for this nationwide problem later in the article, but first we’ll explain what we do here at Gourmet E-Liquid to prevent underage sales. 

How we age-verify our shoppers

We can ID-check any customer who walks into our Manchester shop, but we can’t see the faces of the people who buy through our website. As online retailers, we need a simple, safe and effective way to check that our customers are over 18. That’s where 1Account comes in. 

1Account is a third-party age verification system that can digitally age-verify customers in a quick and secure way. It complies with Government rules (see and has built-in anti-fraud technology. It has become the standard verification software for most online vape shops in the UK. It also doesn’t cost our customers anything to use. 

How our age checking system works

All of our customers need to be age-verified by 1Account before we can dispatch their order. The 1Account software uses lots of different methods to age-verify customers, including…

  • Mobile phone number: 1Account can look up your number with your smartphone’s network provider to confirm that you are over 18.
  • Electoral roll: 1Account can also check your name and address against the electoral roll
  • ID scanning: you might be asked to take a photo of your passport or driving licence
  • Age estimation: this is an AI-powered system where you take a selfie, then the software estimates your age based on that photograph
  • Credit card checking: 1Account might also ask for your credit card information so that it can check your age.

1Account is a one-time check. As soon as you have been verified as over 18, you don’t need to repeat the process. Further information can be found on our age verification page.

Where are kids getting vapes?

Some newspapers blame a mysterious and elusive black market for our underage vaping crisis. The reality is much simpler. Corner shops and newsagents are selling vapes to under-18s (not all of them, obviously, but a lot of them). This isn’t based on hearsay — this is based on recent peer-reviewed research.

According to the ITC Youth Survey, most English youths (16-19 yrs) buy e-cigarettes and vaping supplies in regular stores, rather than specialist vape shops. Only 14% of these 16-19 year old survey respondents were refused sale because of their age when they tried to buy vaping equipment over the past 12 months. This is a dismal refusal rate. It gets even lower — 11.75% — when you average it out over the past 7 years (source: pages 61-63, ITC report 2024). It's a different story in the US and Canada, where the majority buy from specialist vape stores and the refusal rates are higher.

If these stats were seen in the alcohol industry (in other words, if a 16-year-old stood an 85% chance of successfully buying alcohol in a corner shop), it would be a very different story. You can guarantee that we would see stricter enforcement of the law until these stats improved. We believe that the same level of enforcement should be applied to vapes as well. We need more action from trading standards and the police to ensure that the law is being followed.

E-cigarettes are an incredible tool in the international fight against tobacco. They exist to help smokers quit, and they work. It’s so important that vaping doesn’t become demonised by the irresponsible behaviour of a handful of retailers. We’re hopeful that, after the UK general election next week, those taking power in Westminster will take steps to enforce the rules we already have. 

Stay safe and happy vaping!

John Boughey

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