Industry representatives have welcomed the publication of regulations to make the proxy purchase of tobacco and nicotine inhaling products for under-18s an offence.

The Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 have been laid under Part 5 of the Children and Families Act 2014, and will make it an offence to buy tobacco or cigarette papers on behalf of a minor and also e-cigarettes, liquids and refills.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “ACS strongly supports these regulations that put right a longstanding unfairness in underage sales law.

“It cannot be right that a retailer who makes an honest mistake faces prosecution and a criminal record, but an adult that sets out to buy tobacco to sell to a child faces no sanction.”

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents’ chief executive Paul Baxter, added: “The NFRN has always encouraged members not to sell e-cigarettes to those under 18 so the fact that this will now become an offence is another great step forward. Our hope now is that the government ensures that these regulations are passed speedily through parliament.”

The regulations, laid on Wednesday, have now gone to the joint committee on statutory instruments and to the secondary legislation scrutiny committee.

Jane Ellison, public health minister, said: “Whilst we recognise the role that e-cigarettes can play in helping adult smokers quit, we want to protect children from the harmful effects of nicotine addiction and most e-cigarettes contain nicotine.

“There’s a risk that e-cigarettes could be appealing to children as use and awareness of these products increases.”