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Regulated vapes are paramount as illegal vape seizures rise across the UK



As vaping continues to surge in popularity across the United Kingdom, the market is increasingly divided between legal products and a problematic supply of illegal vapes. These products which go against regulations not only pose serious health risks but also undermine the efforts of legitimate businesses adhering to safety standards.

Vaping regulations: What vapes are illegal in the UK?

Regulations are crucial in safeguarding public health. For vaping products, set regulations ensure that vaping products are free from harmful impurities, are manufactured consistently, and contain only approved ingredients.

Vaping products in the UK are regulated by the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPRs) which place standards on the sale of nicotine vapes, from nicotine levels to labelling requirements. For example, e-liquids should have a maximum nicotine strength of 20 mg/ml and the maximum tank capacity of e-cigarettes should be no more than 2ml. Illegal vaping products do not fulfil the criteria which are set out by the TRPRs.

Vapes exceeding these limits, or those lacking proper health warnings and manufacturer information, are considered illegal. Disposable vapes usually equate to 600 puffs, whereas illegal vapes have been found to sometimes contain thousands of puffs. Regulations are designed to ensure consumer safety and product quality, and any product that fails to meet these standards is subject to seizure and destruction.

Regulatory bodies like the TRPRs and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) play a pivotal role in monitoring these products, enforcing compliance, and taking action against non-compliant entities. By supporting regulated products, consumers not only protect their own health but also support the sustainability of safe vaping practices.

UK border force seized over 4M illegal vapes over the last 12 months

With products including higher levels of nicotine, local authorities are particularly targeting such illegal vapes over concerns about the impact on children’s health. The scale of the illegal vape market is alarming, with various authorities across the UK seizing large quantities of non-compliant products.

Illegal vapes have become a problem across the UK, with local Trading Standards for West Yorkshire, Midlothian, and other authorities and councils, cracking down on retailers and seizing thousands of products. Last year, it was reported that over 6,000 illegal vapes were seized in Wrexham following a crackdown by Trading Standards.

The surge in youth vaping has had a significant impact on the number of illegal vapes in circulation, with the BBC reporting that over 4 million illegal vapes were seized at the border in the last 12 months. To tackle the growing problem, the government announced that disposable vapes will be banned in England (no date given yet), with Scotland following suit from 1st April 2025.

Purchasing from safe and reputable companies

While millions of illegal vapes are being seized across the country, there are many vaping companies which are operating and trading within the law. Many are adhering to legal guidelines for disposable vaping products which follow the product standards set out by the TRPRs.

Regulated vaping product suppliers focused on consumer safety adhere to strict testing and safety protocols to ensure their products are safe for consumer use. These companies invest in quality control and adhere to legal standards, which others avoid with dangerous unregulated products.

Cracking down on the sale of illegal vapes

The dangers posed by illegal vaping products are real and significant. They endanger health, expose users to untested chemicals, and undermine the regulatory framework designed to protect the public.

Consumer vigilance, combined with stringent enforcement of regulations, is essential to curb the proliferation of illegal vapes and ensure that the vaping industry can continue to offer safe products to its users.

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