Geek Bar is helping to crack down on the sales of illegal vape products in a campaign that has already seen thousands of pounds worth of illicit stock seized in the UK.
The company has appointed Billy Rahman, managing director at vape manufacturer iBreathe, as a consultant to lead the project.
Rahman has established a primary authority arrangement with his local council, Oldham in Greater Manchester, which will see Trading Standards officers co-ordinate operations with their counterparts around the country.
Rahman is also working alongside compliance company Arcus Compliance, which represents some of the largest brands in the vaping industry, to ensure all CLP (classification, labelling and packaging) requirements for Geek Bar products being sold around the UK are met.
Last year, Trading Standards officers carried out the biggest single raid in the UK so far. They seized £190,000 worth of non-compliant disposable vaping products – those which may meet standards in other countries but fail to do so in the UK – from a former takeaway premises in Newcastle.
Rahman added: “I have operated in the vaping industry for 12 years and the issues facing Geek Bar with counterfeit and non-compliant products are the same as those my business faces.
“These products originate almost exclusively from China and at least 11 large-scale manufacturers have been closed down there in recent months.
“Working with Oldham as the primary authority, this partnership has already produced results, with the confiscation of numerous illegal products in North Lanarkshire. Meanwhile we have also identified several counterfeit re-sellers operating in Southall in west London, and in parts of Manchester.”
He explained the popularity of Geek Bar’s products means some people are willing to take illegal steps to get them to market.
However, he added that this partnership is working to ensure counterfeit re-sellers are properly policed and “sending out the message that it is only a matter of time before these operators are identified, and that ultimately this kind of activity can lead to a prison sentence”.
Speaking exclusively to betterRetailing.com, Rahman said he advises convenience retailers to be fully aware of the TPD and TRPR regulations surrounding vaping products in the UK.
Under the current guidance, there are restrictions around the content level of e-liquid and nicotine dosage to a maximum of 2%.
“The consequences for retailers selling non-compliant and illegal vape products can include huge fines and/or prosecution. The concern is how easily non-compliant and illegal products are getting to the hands of consumers, as these products could potentially cause more harm than good to users.
“My advice would be to look at gaining supply of vape products through reputable supply chains, asking questions to suppliers about the legality of the products and staying up to date on any changes in regulations,” he added.