The crackdown on disposable vapes has been ongoing since last year when the uber-convenient devices took the UK by storm. Glasgow Wholesalers were targeted by Trading Standards in late 2021, with many thousands of devices seized due to their total failure to follow the safety parameters enforced by Tobacco products Directive and MHRA.
This served to add to the mounting evidence calling the safety of disposable vapes into question and left many consumers wondering if they should give the products a go. While some folks may have been dissuaded from dabbling with disposables, their popularity is undeniable. With many younger demographics like students championing their use, UK vapers have taken a shine to the uber-compact designs, diverse and full-on flavour profiles available and of course the infectiously satisfying nicotine salt e-liquid formula they all seem to be loaded with.
The latest headlines in The Sun and indeed on the Sussex .gov website this month have revealed that despite a major call from Trading Standards last year for the leading brands in the disposable market like Geek and Elf to begin tightening their controls, and ensuring products are safe and compliant; more illegal disposables have surfaced in the South of the UK.
Illegal Disposables Discovered in Sussex
West Sussex Trading Standards officers led by team manager Peter Aston, have seized over 140 illegal Geek Bar Pro disposable vaping devices from only two local convenience retailers. Discovered this February (2022) the raid highlights the need for continued vigilance and action from retailers and consumers alike, to ensure dangerous products cannot fall into the hands of unwitting vapers.
The raid followed a tip-off from a concerned local resident who noticed the stores were carrying suspicious looking disposable vapes that just didn’t seem kosher. These suspicions were confirmed as officers discovered that the products did not meet any of the pre-determined safety standards which all manufacturers must follow if they hope to sell their products in the UK vaping market.
The devices were found to have an internal e-liquid capacity of 4.5ml – 2.5ml larger than the legal limit. Similarly the devices are available in 50mg/ml nicotine strengths, 30mg/ml above the legal UK limit. The devices were clearly produced for sale in a market outside the UK, but due to the popularity they have experienced here, retailers have been sold illicit stock, often without realising, as they scrabble to get hold of enough to meet demand.
Mr Aston stated: "These products do not meet legal requirements and we are working hard to make sure retailers in West Sussex remove them from sale". Colleague Duncan Crow, member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue backed this stance: “Trading Standards officers are taking action to get these products off shop shelves – protecting the health and wellbeing of people in West Sussex and ensuring local retailers and wholesalers are selling only legal vaping products."
How You Can Tell if a Disposable is Legal
If we forget the ethical issues surrounding disposable vapes in general, it should be remembered that there are many examples of these products that are tested and properly registered for sale with the MHRA in-line with TPD regulations. If you so choose, you should not experience any serious issues when buying these products.
The issue lies in that the illegal variants of these devices are very difficult to separate from their legal counterparts. The designs, branding and flavours are all the same, and the products are official, in as much as they are produced by the same big brands people are buying into like Geek and Elf. The issue is they were never designed to be sold here in the UK and are not held to the safety standards you should expect.
Keep an eye out for the following things if you decide to browse for a disposable, they will give you and idea of whether or not you can trust it:
- Check the packaging for the appropriate symbols. All vaping products in the UK must carry the same warnings and symbols intended to ensure you are buying something safe. If they are not there or seem incorrect, move on.
- Check the nicotine strength. Most of the biggest brands in disposables now offer a 10mg and 20mg variant. Anything above 20mg, with 50mg being a prime culprit, is 100% illegal and should not be purchased.
- Check the manufacturers contact info. Even if a brand is not from the UK, in order for their products to be legally sold here in the UK, they must provide a UK contact on their packaging for consumers to reach out to in the event of any issues. If this isn’t there, ask yourself why, then leave it well alone.
Beyond these three things, you can also search in the MHRA’s list of registered vaping products – https://products.mhra.gov.uk – if the one in your hand isn’t there, it’s illegal and has not been proven safe enough for UK consumers.
A Safer Alternative to Disposables
Of course, if you are still having doubts about the whole disposables craze, you don’t have to buy into it to experience what they offer.
Their design is based on pod vaping systems, the only difference is they are sold as one sealed unit. For those not in the know, most pod systems feature a reusable battery of varying size and technical advancement – that all depends on what you prefer. The pod section is typically refillable like those found in our hardware range. Although some pods are disposable, at least you only need to dispose of the one small part, rather than the whole lot!
The e-liquid inside disposables is nothing special in the grand scheme. It is simply a very flavoursome example of a nic salt. You can check out the science of nic salts in our blog, but the short version is that they are simply an e-liquid using modified nicotine that absorbs faster, satisfies for longer and is super smooth despite being high strength. The good news is that you can get this kind of e-liquid from lots of other places including our own nic salt collection (fyi – our salts cost £1 for 10ml, a disposable only gives you 2ml for £6).
So for your own disposable vape experience that sidesteps the ethical issues, get yourself a nice compact pod device and a few bottles of tasty nic salt juice, and you are good to go! We do get that the unbelievable convenience of disposables does make them very handy, but as you can read in our blog Disposable Vapes – What You Need to Know, They have more than a few drawbacks from environmental risk to your personal safety. Before you make any decisions, make sure you know the facts and make a choice that best suits your needs.