Crackdown on illegal vapes in Kensington and Chelsea

Published: Monday 5 September 2022

Trading standards teams have seized over 3,000 illegal vapes in Kensington and Chelsea, worth £24,000. 

The team were shocked to find a vape pen with a tank size of 16ml and 7,000 puffs – over eight times the legal limit in the UK. 

Warning letters have been issued to 21 traders. After a second warning retailers still selling illegal would face possible prosecution.

The trading standards team have said some retailers are not aware they are selling illegal vapes. Larger tank sizes often sell for a low price which gives the illusion of value for money. The team is planning further raids to try to educate retailers and protect consumers.

Lead member for Local Economy & Employment Cllr Josh Rendall said: 
“The sale of illegal vapes is a problem throughout the UK and London does appear to be a hotspot. We are concerned that these products are being sold to children and young people in our borough.

“Our trading standards team have been working hard to remove these illegal products from our streets and educating retailers about the risks they pose. We encourage residents to report any concerns about any suspected illegal products to our trading standards team.”

The reasons for vapes being illegal include:

  • Retailers selling vapes from brands that have not been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency .
  • Vapes carrying over the legal 2ml tank size. A vape pen should provide no more than 600-800 puffs.
  • Carrying illegal ingredients. The highest nicotine strength for vapes is 2 per cent. The nicotine liquid should not contain any additives or ingredients such as caffeine or taurine.  
  • Carrying the wrong health warning. All vape products containing nicotine should have the following health warning 'This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance' covering 30 per cent of the front and back of the packet.

The cause of the illegality is believed to stem from US law that prohibits high volume and high strength vapes meaning they can longer be sold to the US market. Many of the products confiscated are thought to be smuggled into the UK and carry a US health warning that is not legal in the UK. 

The UK Health Security agency advises that vaping is not risk-free, but is less harmful thank smoking tobacco. Vaping can help some people quit smoking. The best thing you can do for your health is to be smokefree and vape free.