Sir: The announcement that e-cigarettes will be restricted to people over 18 (‘Scientists say tougher rules on e-cigarettes could put off quitters,’ 1 February, p9), 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 where 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 recent survey 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, in-store or online, we need to follow through and verify people are who they say they are.
John Lord, MD, GBGroup