Our Trading Standards officers seized over £17,000 worth of illicit vapes and tobacco products during three days of inspections conducted in early October.
The goods were seized across 8 premises in Brighton & Hove, which our Trading Standards department suspected of rogue sales.
The operation took place as a part of our systemic crackdown on the selling of illicit vapes and tobacco, and was supported by the members of the Tactical Enforcement Unit from Sussex Police, a dog handler and officers from Thames Valley South East Regional Organised Crime Unit.
Our Trading Standards officers have previously carried out visits to local businesses to provide advice and guidance on the legislation surrounding vapes as well as underage sales.
Since then, a total of 27 businesses have been found selling illicit goods.
Officers are now considering a range of enforcement options including closure orders, prosecutions and referrals to other agencies to deal with the illegal sale of tobacco and vapes.
New generation of nicotine addiction
While vapes and e-cigarettes are currently considered a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, there is a growing concern about their use among children and young people, who might have not taken up smoking otherwise.
All legally sold vaping devices need to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency and must not exceed 20mg/2% of nicotine concentration and 2ml in capacity - around 600 'puffs'.
Illicit vapes might contain higher doses of nicotine and can also contain various dangerous chemicals such as lead, tin, nickel or THC.
High levels of inhaled lead damage central nervous system and inhibit brain development, especially if inhaled by a child or a young person.
As well as negative health implications, the single use nature of disposable vapes poses a hazard to the environment.
Discarded vaping devices might be mistaken for food by wildlife such as birds, fish, and marine mammals and cause internal injuries, poisoning or death.
Both disposable and rechargeable vapes contain a hidden lithium battery that can be extremely dangerous when thrown away.
Lithium batteries can explode and cause fires in trucks and waste facilities when thrown away in your household recycling or the rubbish bins around the city.
Vapes can be recycled in small electrical item recycling points and you may also be able to recycle vapes at some shops and supermarkets across the city. Visit the recycle your electricals website and enter your postcode for information about places near you.
A stern warning
Councillor Leslie Pumm, chair of the Equalities, Community Safety & Human Rights Committee, said: “We are determined to continue our crackdown on the selling of illicit vapes and tobacco products and the selling of these to vulnerable young people.
“Most users might not realise that by purchasing unregulated vaping devices they could be causing long-term damage to their health and fostering a serious nicotine addiction.
“Local business owners have been briefed on the legal requirements regarding the selling of vapes and therefore should know better than to risk their livelihoods and the wellbeing of our residents.
“I would like to issue a stern warning to all retailers to ensure all disposable e-cigarettes, e-liquids and vaping devices they sell meet UK legal requirements and remind them about the age restriction on the sale of vapes.
“Anyone selling vapes to someone under 18 is committing an offence. The owner of the business can be held responsible as well as the member of staff who made the sale.”
Reporting illegal sales
If you’re aware of any shops involved in selling non-compliant vapes or selling age restricted products to children, please contact Brighton & Hove Trading Standards by e-mailing email@example.com.
You can also file an anonymous report via Crimestoppers either by calling 0800 555 111 or at their website.
To report via Citizens Advice consumer helpline, call 0808 223 1133.
To report illegal tobacco, you can use the Keep It Out anonymous online reporting tool.