See the massive haul of illegal vapes and e-cigarettes seized by Trading Standards officials across the North East
More than a tonne of illegal vapes have been taken off the streets over the last six months.
The huge haul seized by trading standards officials from across the North East included devices which were sold to children, lacked mandatory health warnings and in some cases had a nicotine capacity well above official limits.
In total, products weighing in at 1.4 tonnes have now been sent to be destroyed.
But the scale of the collection has prompted warnings to users to make sure they do endanger themselves by buying from potential rogue traders.
Ian Harrison, speaking 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”.
By law, all tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vape products must comply with strict tobacco control laws, including a limit on nicotine content and tank size.
Some of the products seized during 2022 had tank sizes up to seven times the legal limit.
Compliant disposable vapes will have a maximum tank size of 2ml and a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml or 2%.
Many had also been labelled incorrectly and lacked information such as health warnings, batch details and details of potential hazards.
John Herriman,chief executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, 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.”
According to officials, a large portion of the vapes seized were not authorised for sale in the UK.
In the North East, seizures have been prompted by concerns over sales to children.
During test purchases carried out by Trading Standards officials in March at 32 retailers, more than two fifths of stores sold a vaping device to an underage volunteer.
Ailsa Rutter, director of alcohol and tobacco campaigner 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.”