A joint operation by Heart of the South West Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police has resulted in the seizure of illicit vapes with a street value of approximately £7,400 from a shop in Plymouth.
The seizure was made while Officers carried out visits to retailers as part of the Operation Sceptre campaign against underage knife sales. Following up on intelligence they had received regarding non-compliant vapes being sold at one store, they came across 740 ‘ELUX 3500’ disposable vapes, priced at £10 each.
The vapes did not comply with the law in several ways: their tank size was five times the legally permitted 2ml maximum; they were not labelled with the contact details of the producer’s EU representative; and they were not listed with the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
The devices were voluntarily surrendered by the store owner and will now be disposed of.
As part of Operation Spectre, a number of engagement and advice visits were also made to premises across Exeter. Trading Standards Officers reminded store owners of the regulations they must follow and of the consequences of selling illegal goods or age-restricted items.
Alex Fry, Operations Manager Intelligence and Investigations, Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in vaping as an alternative to cigarettes over the last few years. Originally for those attempting to give up smoking, the bright colours and sweet flavours are now worryingly attracting younger audiences and so it is essential store owners remain vigilant when selling these products.
“Illegal vapes, such as those seized during these visits, have an additional public health risk. They often have excessively high levels of nicotine, over the limits set by law and will not have been authorised by the MHRA. This makes them highly addictive and potentially harmful to a person’s health.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills said: “This is an excellent example of Trading Standards coming together to work efficiently alongside the Police force in Devon. The positive outcome is a testament to their communication and close team working.
“This operation is also working proactively to play an important role in educating the local store owners to be strict in following regulations to protect their livelihoods. Underage sales are a criminal offence and any premises found not to be complying with the law could face prosecution in the Courts and a loss of their licence, removing a large source of revenue.”