Cracking down on illegal vapes

Our Trading Standards officers carried out visits to over 25 local businesses within the last month as a part of a programme to prevent the selling of illegal vapes and e-cigarettes.

The aim of these visits was to provide advice and guidance on the legislation surrounding vapes as well as underage sales.

Vaping devices and e-liquids are highly regulated to ensure public safety by controlling the amount of nicotine present and must be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The UK legal limit on nicotine in disposable e-cigarettes is no more than two per cent (20mg/ml) and must not exceed 2ml in capacity - around 600 'puffs'.

Recent reports also showed that illicit vapes can contain dangerous chemicals like lead, tin and nickel or contain harmful cannabis THC chemicals.

High levels of inhaled lead damage central nervous system and brain development, especially if inhaled by a child or a young person.

Illegal e-cigarettes and tobacco seized

During one visit, our Trading Standards officers seized around 1,000 illegal disposable e-cigarettes from a shop in Brighton & Hove. They also found approximately £2,500 worth of illegal tobacco.

The majority of the disposable products seized contained oversized tanks, with capacities varying between 3,500 and 9,000 puffs.

In terms of nicotine, one normal cigarette is the equivalent of about 12.5 puffs, making a 3,500 puff e-cigarette the equivalent of around 280 cigarettes.

Councillor Tim Rowkins, Chair of the City Environment, South Downs and The Sea Committee, said: “I am very pleased with the work our Trading Standards officers are doing to tackle illicit vapes and underage sales.

“It’s disappointing that there are businesses in our city that are willing to put the health of our citizens at risk by selling illegal goods.

“The rapid rise of vaping among children and young people, including the use of cheaper illicit and unregulated vapes, is extremely concerning. It introduces nicotine addiction to generations, who might not have smoked otherwise.

“I’m also very concerned about the rise of disposable vapes. Aside from the health implications, they are completely unsustainable in terms of waste and I would encourage our local businesses to avoid stocking them entirely.

“Manufacturers are well aware that most are not disposed of correctly, and of the harm they cause by releasing plastic, electronic and hazardous chemical waste into the environment. They can also cause fire or pose health and safety risks at landfill sites.”

Batteries and electrical items are a serious fire hazard, so should not be disposed of in your household recycling or rubbish.

You can recycle batteries at supermarkets or the two household recycling sites

Reminder for retailers

We expect all retailers to ensure that all disposable e-cigarettes, e-liquids and vaping devices they sell meet UK legal requirements.

Further, we would like to remind retailers 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.

To report illegal nicotine inhaling products or tobacco, please contact Brighton & Hove Trading Standards on