One in 12 independent convenience stores selling illicit vapes

In the past week, at least 10 councils undertook sting operations

Two illegal vapes sold every minute in London last year

At least one in 12 independent convenience stores is still selling illegal vaping devices, analysis by RN has revealed. 

Sales data from 3,500 local shops in May showed 15% of the 20 bestselling disposable lines were ‘3,500-puff’ products containing well above the 2ml e-liquid limit. 

The figures meant that 95p in every £10 spent on the 20 top disposable vapes came from an illegal product. 

Comparisons with sales data from late 2022 show the market share of the illicit products in the bestselling lines by value and volume has halved during the period. 

However, the drop is being driven by sales increases of legitimate products, rather than falling sales of illegal products in the top 20. 

The most-commonly ranged illegal line, Elux Legend Mr Blue 3500 puffs, was sold in nearly 10% of stores during May 2023, suggesting a minority of stores are at increasing risk, as trading standards departments step up enforcement activity, backed by a £3m government-funded ‘illicit vape enforcement squad’. 

In the past week, at least 10 councils undertook sting operations. Tens of thousands of devices were seized, four shop staff were arrested, one retailer received a criminal conviction and five shops were ordered to close. 

Freedom of information requests by The Guardian last month found more than 2.5 million vapes had been seized by trading standards since 2020. 

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