Skip to the content

Sheffield Trading Standards Team seize 30,000 illegal disposable vapes

Vaping and E cigarettes The Facts 3 vapes

Sheffield Trading Standards, working with South Yorkshire Police, have uncovered 30,000 illegal vapes at a small Sheffield shop.

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 team advises vape retailers to act responsibly and to comply with the law when selling vaping products. To stay within the law, retailer should:

  • Buy stock from legitimate sources
  • Keep receipts for their stock purchases
  • Make sure the products they sell have the correct labelling including manufacturer details, tank size and nicotine content and the correct prescribed health warnings
  • Check that the vapes they sell 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.”

Many of the devices seized during this operation had 18ml nicotine containing liquid capacity which is nearly ten times prescribed safe limits. 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.

Cllr 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.”

What you can do

Members of the public concerned about shops selling illegal vapes and in particular vapes to children can report this direct to Sheffield City Council Trading at Trading Standards | Sheffield City Council

or they can call or email Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 who will pass the information onto the council.

More information from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is here Vaping: The Facts | Smokefree Sheffield

For those in the UK who can't hear or speak on the phone, they can type what they want to say to 18001 then 0808 223 1133. Relay UK can be used with an app or a textphone and there is no extra charge to use it. More information is  at Relay UK - homepage | Relay UK (bt.com).