15th February 2024

Sheffield TS finds 30,000 illegal vapes

Officers seized around £400,000 worth of illegal devices from a shop in the city.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
By seizing child-appealing overstrength vapes they are safeguarding the next generation from a lifetime of addiction to nicotine

Sheffield Trading Standards has seized 30,000 illegal vapes with a value of around £400,000 from a shop in the city.

Officers, supported by South Yorkshire Police, found devices with a nicotine liquid capacity of 18ml — almost ten times the legal limit. According to the council, the devices may also contain banned carcinogenic and otherwise hazardous chemicals that are not allowed in the UK.

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 lifetime of addiction to nicotine.”

The illegal vapes, which filled the shop and its storeroom, took a considerable amount of time to remove from the premises.

Otten added: “These illegal vapes 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.”

Sheffield Trading Standards has seen a significant increase in consumer complaints about sales of illegal vaping products and sales of vapes to children. In 2023, the team carried out around 100 inspection visits to local businesses and found many were selling illegal vapes.

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 [Action on Smoking and Health], 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.”

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