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1.4 Tonnes of Illegal Vapes Seized

North East Trading Standards teams swooped on stores and seized 1.4 tonnes of illegal disposable vaping products over the last six months

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Trading Standards teams from across the North East, working together as the North East Trading Standards Association, have removed thousands of non-compliant vaping products from sale. A total of 1.4 tonnes of illegal disposable vaping products seized from retailers during operations over the past six months have been sent for destruction.

The North East Trading Standards Association is the partnership between the Trading Standards services of Darlington Borough Council, Durham County Council, Gateshead Council, Hartlepool Borough Council, Middlesbrough Borough Council, Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland County Council, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, South Tyneside Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, and Sunderland City Council.

All tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vape products, must comply with stringent tobacco control laws, including a limit on nicotine content and tank size. Some of the products seized had tank sizes up to seven times the legal limit as well as incorrect labelling, with devices lacking information including health warnings, batch details and hazard warnings.

Vaping devices must also display the details of a UK-based manufacturer or importer who can be contacted in the event of a safety issue. A large quantity of the disposable vapes seized were not authorised for sale in the UK.

Much of the work undertaken by the North East Trading Standards Association came about as a result of concerns from consumers regarding the sale of vaping devices to children. During test purchasing exercises undertaken by Trading Standards in March this year at 32 retailers, 44% of retailers sold a vaping device to an underage volunteer.

Ian Harrison, on behalf of North East Trading Standards Association, said: “Vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking, which kills two out of three lifelong smokers, but the number of vaping devices seized by trading standards indicates the scale of non-compliant products on the market.  Consumers should take care when buying vaping products and a reputable vape shop is always the best option for people wanting to use them to quit smoking.

“Trading Standards will continue to play a role in ensuring the vape market is regulated to provide reassurance to consumers”.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “While we recognise that vaping may be a useful quitting aid for smokers, we are worried that there appear to be increasing breaches of the law, with many non-compliant being sold. There is also an increasing problem with vaping products being sold to children, which has led to widespread public concern.

“Trading Standards teams are doing vital work by cracking down on the unscrupulous retailers who are selling these products to young people without the legally required age verification checks. It is important that vaping products comply with rules that were established to safeguard public health, and that they do not end up in the hands of children.”

Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said: “The best advice to smokers is that if you smoke, vape instead – but if you don’t smoke don’t vape. Vaping offers a much less harmful option for smokers who want to quit tobacco but we need to ensure that the products for sale comply with the UK regulations.

“Tobacco smoking remains our biggest killer and a key driver of health inequalities in the North East, with around 5,000 people in our region dying every year as a result of their addiction, and all of this is entirely preventable.  We would encourage any smoker who is considering quitting tobacco to give vaping a go and reduce their risk of developing a smoking-related disease and dying early.”

Vaping devices and e-cigarettes must be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) prior to sale. Compliant disposable vapes will have a maximum tank size of 2ml and the highest nicotine strength will be 20mg/ml or 2%. Vaping devices are an age-restricted product and it is illegal to sell vapes to under 18s.

The body says: “If a consumer suspects they have bought a non-compliant vape, or have concerns regarding a retailer selling vapes to children, they should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223”.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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