30000 Illegal Vapes Seized


South Yorkshire cops swoop to seize a huge haul of illegal black market vapes from a tiny Sheffield store’s stockroom and serves as a reminder of how things will be following the disposables ban


Working with Sheffield Trading Standards, South Yorkshire cops have swooped to seize a huge haul of 30,000 illegal black market single-use vapes from a tiny Sheffield store’s stockroom. The raid serves as a reminder of how things will be following the disposables ban and raises the question as to how Trading Standards will cope.

Sheffield Trading Standards said: “The large quantity, which filled the shop and the storeroom, took a considerable amount of time to remove from the premises and is a reminder to all businesses that Trading Standards will investigate locations where they think there is illegal activity.


“The team has seen a significant increase in consumer complaints about sales of illegal vaping products and sales of vapes to children. Last year, Sheffield Trading Standards carried out around 100 inspection visits to local businesses selling vapes and found many were selling the illegal brands.”


The Trading Standards team has advised vape retailers to “act responsibly and to comply with the law” when selling vaping products.


They say that to stay within the law, retailers should:


Only buy stock from legitimate sources

Keep receipts for stock purchases

Make sure products have the correct labelling including manufacturer details, tank size and nicotine content and the correct prescribed health warnings

Check that the vapes have a liquid tank size capacity of no more than 2ml and a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml.

Check that any company that makes vaping products that is supplying to them has registered their products with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Retailers can do this by checking the list of submitted vape products on the MHRA website. If retailers cannot find them on the list, they should ask their supplier to confirm that they comply with the requirements of the regulations and that they have been notified to MHRA.

Councillor Joe Otten, Chair of Waste and Street Scene Committee at Sheffield City Council, said: “The success of this operation is testament to the hard work and dedication of our Trading Standards Officers. I would also like to extend my thanks to the fantastic officers of South Yorkshire Police who assisted the Trading Standards Team on the day.


“Trading Standards across the country are finding that many of the vapes that are seized are designed specifically to appeal to children and young people, with packaging and flavours emulating popular confectionery brands. This operation shows how important it was for the team to investigate and act. By seizing child appealing overstrength vapes they are safeguarding the next generation from a life-time of addiction to nicotine.”


Trading Standards said that many of the devices seized during this operation had 18ml tanks, almost ten times the legal 2ml maximum.


Speculating, they added that the devices, “may also contain banned carcinogenic and otherwise hazardous chemicals that are not allowed in the UK but are uncontrolled in other parts of the world.”


Councillor Otten added: “These illegal vapes therefore pose significant health dangers to users, and this discovery and significant seizure has prevented many tens of thousands of powerful and potentially dangerous vapes from being sold all over our city. The devices seized during this operation are being sold at between £10 to £15 which means that the value of this stock was around £400,000. That’s the removal of a significant number of harmful products from the market.”


Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield, said: "Vaping helps adult smokers quit, but if you don’t smoke you shouldn’t start vaping. We need to continue to do our best to stop children smoking, but we don’t want them to start vaping either. It’s of great concern that vapes are being sold to children.


“Sheffield, working with ASH, has produced comprehensive information and advice on how to stop children vaping, in response to demands from parents and teachers. However, while education is important, it's not enough on its own. We need to deliver vital enforcement action locally and need tougher regulation nationally.


“The restrictions in place on who can buy vaping products and the levels and types of chemicals used in vapes, are there to both safeguard public health and to ensure that they do not end up in the hands of children.”


South Yorkshire Police have spoken about their pride in keeping “over £900,000 worth of illegal vapes and cigarettes off the streets in 12 months”.


Previously, up to the end of December 2023, a total of 27,085 vapes had been seized across Rotherham, with an estimated value of £301,117, they said.


Chief Superintendent Laura Koscikiewicz said: “Removing illegal vapes, cigarettes and tobacco from our streets was one of our key priorities last year, as we were aware that the amount being discovered was very high. I am therefore extremely pleased with these results and we remain committed to continuing to ensure Rotherham remains a safe place to work, live and visit.


“Our officers work hard alongside the council to find these illegal substances, and these results demonstrate the amount of dedication and persistence our officers and members of the trading standards team have put in. The safety of the people of Rotherham and across the whole of South Yorkshire is our priority, and these illegal substances are being sold to people with potentially harmful chemicals within them, which could cause serious health problems.”

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