Surge in seized vapes sparks concern for the UK government 

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The number of illicit vapes held at the border quadrupled last year as UK authorities tussle with unlicensed imports amid a surge in youth vaping.
The number of illicit vapes held at the border quadrupled last year as UK authorities tussle with unlicensed imports amid a surge in youth vaping.

The number of illicit vapes held at the border quadrupled last year as UK authorities tussle with unlicensed imports amid a surge in youth vaping.

In the past 12 months, law enforcement has seized over 4.5 million vapes, weighing nearly ten tonnes—a fourfold increase from the previous year’s figures. 

The data, obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC, underscores a growing concern about the influx of illegal vaping products. 

The government is poised to announce new regulations for the industry, with a potential ban on disposable vapes, which have gained popularity, particularly during the pandemic.

Rising Seizures

Figures revealed in response to the FOI request indicate a significant escalation in vape seizures. In 2021, Border Force seized a modest 4,430 vapes, a number that skyrocketed to 988,064 in 2022. 

The trend continued, with a staggering 4,537,689 vapes seized from January to October 2023. This surge raises questions about the prevalence of illegal vaping products in the market.

Government Action on the Horizon

The government is gearing up to announce new industry rules in response to the surge in seized vapes. Among the proposed measures is a potential ban on disposable vapes, which have become widely popular due to attractive packaging and flavors named after sweets and soft drinks. 

 have been raised about the marketing of these products, especially in relation to children, as selling them to individuals under 18 is illegal.

Disposable Vape Popularity and Concerns

Disposable e-cigarettes, popularized during the pandemic, face scrutiny due to their marketing tactics and accessibility. 

While the UK enforces strict limits on nicotine levels in legal disposable vapes, illicit Chinese-made alternatives containing larger amounts of liquid and promising thousands of puffs have entered the UK market. 

Calls to restrict the marketing of these products to safeguard children have gained momentum.

Challenges in Enforcement

The surge in seized vapes sheds light on the challenges faced by authorities in curbing the influx of illegal products. 

The ease with which these items are available, even on prominent streets like London’s Oxford Street, underscores the urgency of effective regulation and enforcement.

Quality and Safety Concerns

Illegal e-cigarettes, unlike their legal counterparts, evade registration with regulatory bodies and quality control processes. This lack of oversight raises concerns about the potential presence of harmful chemicals in these products, posing risks to consumers.

Government’s Stance

A spokesperson from the Home Office affirmed the government’s commitment to combating the sale of illegal and harmful goods. Border Force, in collaboration with law enforcement partners, is actively targeting illicit commodities. 

The emphasis is on preventing the sale of illegal or counterfeit vapes, which may pose health risks and compromise product standards.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a seasoned contributor to the Los Angeles Business Magazine, where he offers insightful analysis on local business trends and economic developments. With a focus on Los Angeles' dynamic commercial landscape, Gary's articles provide valuable perspectives for entrepreneurs and business professionals in the city.

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