According to data obtained by online supplier Vape Club, two illegal vapes were sold every minute across London last year.
The data, obtained using a Freedom of Information request, showed that there were just under one million units of illegal vapes seized by the local borough trading standards. Heathrow airport was dubbed a ‘hotbed’ for those aiming to import illegal vapes into the capital, as 856,780 unit of vapes were seized last year by the London Borough of Hillingdon.
The findings, said Vape Club, raise concerns about the potentially dangerous illegal vapes entering the capital and wider UK at the borders.
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“These range from products which do not comply with UK regulations and have not been through the appropriate testing to ensure safety, to counterfeits of popular brands,” said the company’s director Dan Marchant.
He added that the vape industry was calling for stronger clampdowns, regulation enforcement, and illicit vape products to be treated “as seriously as counterfeit cigarettes”.
“For the first time ever, the number of illegal vapes seized in London last year began to approach the number of counterfeit cigarettes, of which 1.06 million units were seized off the streets. The borough of Croyden was found to be the capitals hotspot for fake cigarettes, with 661,625 seized last year. This was followed by the Borough of Newham with 343,240.
“Recent raids by Westminster City Council, supported by a UKVIA representative on Oxford Street, confiscated items with a value of £145,000, including 2381 vape pens estimated to be up to four times the legal tank size limit. Products which are giving the legitimate vaping industry, and those promoting safe and legal use, cause for concern,” he added.
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Marchant said an illicit vape can sometimes be spotted by the product description, specifically the number of puffs being advertised. Under UK law the maximum volume of [nicotine containing] e-liquid that can legally be in a vape product is 2ml, which will at the very most equate to around 500-600 puffs. Any product claiming to be more than this is usually a reliable indication that the product is not legal and has not been through the appropriate testing and safety measures.
“The responsible side of the industry are literally begging for the authorities to enforce the regulations and take serious action against the businesses flouting the rules. What’s needed is a licensing scheme, so proper age verification tests can be applied to every retailer. And there must be higher fines, applied to every breach, for the rogue sellers. The UKVIA is calling for the fines to be raised to at least £10,000, which would be a real deterrent.”
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