IBVTA statement on tests on illegal products
It is being reported in the media today that tests conducted on illegal single use vape products confiscated from secondary school pupils in Worcestershire, found high levels of metals.
One of these illegal products was found 2.4 times the stipulated safe exposure level of lead, 9.6 times the safe level of nickel, and 6.6 times the safe level of chromium.
Vaping is now the UK’s most effective and most popular tool to de-normalise smoking and has already helped millions of smokers across the UK to quit. There are currently around 4.3 million adult vapers in the UK, and independent research has found vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking.
Sales to those under 18 are illegal, as are proxy sales. The IBVTA, as well as trade bodies for convenience retailers such as the Association of Convenience Retailers (ACS) provide guidance to retailers on how to prevent underage sales.
For a product to comply with UK regulations, it must contain a maximum of 2ml of liquid, and a maximum nicotine level of 20mg per ml. Manufacturers must conduct extensive ingredient and toxicological tests on their products before being placed on the market, and all vape kits and products containing nicotine must be notified to the Medicine and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The IBVTA believes that there is a clear association between the sale of illegal vapes and sales to young people. Retailers who do not check the provenance or MHRA notification status of vape products they sell are also unlikely to verify the age of customers in any meaningful way and may go on to sell those illegal products to children.
Products that are filled many times over the legal maximum also offer consumers better perceived value for money that fully compliant products cannot hope to match. This means the playing field is never level, and that the public and media perception of the compliant vape sector is unfairly damaged.
The tests were carried out by the Liverpool based laboratory, and IBVTA Associate Member, Inter Scientific. David Lawson, Co-Founder, told the BBC the results were the worst he has seen.
We hope this serves as a wakeup call to unscrupulous importers and retailers that not only are they breaking the law, but they are also putting peoples’ health at risk.
There are calls for more penalties on importers and more restrictions on retailers inland. While laudable, the IBVTA have for some time called for additional resources to help Trading Standards teams apply more meaningful enforcement at the UK’s borders. Both Trading Standards and the legitimate vape trade will benefit from the prevention of illegal products arriving on the UK market in the first place.
IBVTA CEO, Gillian Golden, said: “Illegal products which find their way onto the UK market filled with as much as 20ml of e-liquid, and for which safety tests are not supplied to the MHRA, are a tangible threat to consumers and the legitimate sector alike.
Equally complicit are the retailers who choose to stock these products or suggest ignorance to where they are sourced. As an industry we must continue to support greater resources to stop these products reaching the UK market in the first place.”