Published: Friday February 21, 2014


The recent announcement that electronic cigarettes will be restricted to people over the age of 18 provoked much debate over the merits of e-cigs. But the real issue is how, and if at all, the restriction will actually be enforced. 

As we all know, age-restrictions for certain goods or pieces of content are a necessity, particularly online when there is no shopkeeper or gatekeeper to ask for ID. There have also recently been calls for high-energy caffeine drinks to be age-restricted. 

But even when restrictions are put in place, few retailers carry out identity verification to check that the people purchasing their goods online are of a suitable age. A recentsurvey of Welsh teenagers found that many found it 'easy' to purchase alcohol online and, without stringent checks, is it really surprising? 

The sale is made privately and with relative anonymity. It is one thing to debate the suitability of goods such as e-cigs or high-energy drinks for under 18s, but if we aren't actually imposing the restrictions, what's the point? 

If restrictions are made, whether in-store or online, we need to make sure that we actually follow through, put them in place and verify whether people are who they say they are.

John Lord

Managing Director