Since its inception nearly a decade ago, the vaping industry has thrived within the UK. With the risks and costs of smoking traditional cigarettes, vapes have emerged as a better and safer alternative. After assimilating into society and culture, the UK government has accordingly adapted the laws governing the use of vaping devices and e-liquids.
The TPD directive went into effect on May 20, 2016, limiting tank sizes, maximum nicotine strengths, and bottle sizes. It also meant that any vaping product sold in the UK market had to be submitted to the MHRA to guarantee the quality and safety of these products.
Although the vaping market has grown in size, the devices themselves have shrunk, and we've seen a new trend in the last two years: the incredibly easy to use disposable vapes. As a result of their enormous popularity, we are seeing a flurry of disposable vape releases, and retailers are stocking them without hesitation.
In addition to specialist vape shops and supermarkets selling these devices, they are now being sold in your local corner shop, cafe/fast food store and marketplaces such as Ebay and Gumtree. While the majority of these stores adhere to the regulations, there are a few rogues who disregard the health of their customers in favour of a quick buck.
News reports of shops having their stock seized are becoming more common, but with so many stores now selling these devices, it is becoming nearly impossible to police.
There are a few things you can look out for as a consumer to ensure you're buying legitimate and regulated products.
Purchasing from a reputable retailer
Although it may appear obvious, purchasing your device from a legitimate and reputable seller or manufacturer is critical.
Having said that, there are many websites that appear to be reputable but are selling non-compliant products. So make sure to…
Check the website listing or ask the seller
If purchasing online be sure to check the description and imagery of the products first. They should state the following:
·A maximum 2ml e-liquid capacity
·A maximum of 20mg nicotine
·A nicotine warning label
The majority of the devices allow 550 to 600 puffs of 2% nicotine e-liquid, which equates to 40 to 50 cigarettes per vape. As a general rule, if the listing states more than 600 puffs*, they will not be suitable for the UK market, as they will have a capacity greater than 2ml and, most likely, a higher nicotine content than is permitted.
We are aware of the following products being sold illegally in the UK:
·Geek Bar Pro - 1500 Puffs & 45mg nicotine
·Elux Legend Pro - 3500 Puffs & 10ml of e-liquid
·Elf Bar 1500 - 1500 Puffs, 4.8ml capacity & 50mg nicotine
*There are a few devices that are 800 puffs which are TPD compliant; Dinner Lady V800 and IVG Plus Bar.
Check the product has been submitted and approved by MHRA
You can check the legitimacy of any vaping product on the Medicines and Healthcare Regulation Authority (MHRA) website. All products sold to the UK market must be listed on the MHRA. Just type the name of the brand and product in the available field and it will be displayed if they are authorised.
Check the packaging
If you've already purchased your product but aren't sure if it's safe to vape, check the packaging for a nicotine health warning and nicotine content information (max 20mg or 2%).
The manufacturer's information, such as address and phone number, or website address, should also be included on the packaging. Many companies, including Elf Bar vape and Geek Bar vape, place a holographic sticker on the box that allows you to check the authenticity on their websites.
A word on unregulated products
Unfortunately, illicit or unregulated products will always be a problem, not just in the vaping industry. Despite the fact that Trading Standards is doing an excellent job of seizing illegal stock from sellers, it is a never-ending battle.
We understand that regulations are a barrier for many vapers, and perhaps higher nicotine levels and larger tank/pod capacities would be more effective in assisting smokers in quitting.