How To Report Illegal Vape Sales & Stop The Black Market

By Josh, Head Of Media
19 FEB 2024

The UK Vaping Industry Association has launched a new initiative that calls on vapers to report rogue retailers conducting illegal vape sales. By using the Be Vape Vigilant service, you can quickly fill in a form and help Trading Standards catch rule-breaking brick-and-mortar retailers and online vendors. But, what is an illegal vape sale and why is it important to report them?

What Is An Illegal Vape Sale?

Illegal vape sales take two forms: selling vapes to underage customers or selling illegal products. The dodgiest of retailers carry out both!

Selling vapes to underage customers is pretty self-explanatory: you must be 18 or over to buy and use vape products, including vape kits, e-liquid and disposable vapes. Any retailer who sells vapes to a child – or knowingly sells to an adult who is supplying vapes to a child, known as “proxy selling” – is committing an offence.

What Vapes Are Illegal?

Illegal vape products, again, take two forms, they could be counterfeits: items designed to look like popular vapes. The risk here is fairly clear, anyone who will willingly counterfeits a vape will care very little for what they’re made of or what’s inside. It’s similar to counterfeit cigarettes.

Illegal vapes are also authentic products designed for markets other than the UK. There is still a risk behind this second kind of vape. We have a strict set of laws called the TPD which manufacturers must follow, but some other countries are much more lax, with several not even having a banned ingredients list – including the USA.

Both varieties are easy to spot, they often feature nicotine strengths higher than the UK legal limit of 20mg/ml, or e-liquid capacities higher than the limit of 2ml.

Counterfeits will also bear the same hallmarks as knockoff fashion and electronics: bad copies of packaging, non-translated labelling and poor-quality anti-counterfeit holograms/codes.

Illegal & Counterfeit Vapes

  • Do not comply with UK TPD laws.
  • May contain banned ingredients.
  • Features nic strengths higher than the UK legal limit.
  • Have e-liquid capacities higher than the limit of 2ml.
  • Display packaging appealing to children.

Why Should I Report Illegal Vape Sales?

There are some really good reasons why you should take the time to report sellers that break the law.

  • Illegal and counterfeit vapes can be dangerous – by helping to stop their sale, you’re protecting public health.
  • Retailers that sell to children – who should not be vaping, give vaping a bad name and are one of the causes of heavy-handed legislation such as the UK’s disposable vape ban.
  • Illegal vape sales fund organised crime, just like the sale of illegal tobacco. There have been links between counterfeit goods sales to everything from human trafficking to gun-running.
  • Dodgy shops selling illegal vapes hurt legitimate retailers by robbing them of trade – profiting off unsuspecting members of the public and putting them at risk.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute estimates that around a third of shops have knowingly sold vapes to customers under the age of 18, and that around 1 in 3 vape products are illegal. When responsible retailers and customers work together, these unpleasant figures can become a thing of the past.

How Does Vape Club Avoid Illegal Sales?

We have strict, audited processes to ensure we never accidentally sell to underaged customers and never offer counterfeit or illegal products.

Our digital age verification process works round the clock to automatically check customer details against official records whenever an order is placed, utilsiing the electoral roll and credit records. This ensures that all of our customers are at least 18 years old. If this process ever can’t verify a customer’s age, we also have a secondary check process where we confirm age by photo ID (like a supermarket or pub).

When it comes to the products we stock, all of our goods come either directly from the factory that makes them or from the manufacturer’s certified, trusted UK distributors. Our purchasing team has direct relationships with the biggest vaping brands here in the UK and across the world, like Vaporesso, Riot and Gold Bar – we never buy from the shifty resellers who sell to law-breaking stores or stock products unfit for the UK market.

How Do I Report An Illegal Vape Sale?

It’s easy to report illegal sales with the Be Vape Vigilant website. All you need to do is fill in the form, click “report”, and the UKVIA will pass the information directly on to Trading Standards.

It's easy to report illegal sales with the Be Vape Vigilant website.

All you need to do is fill in the form, click "report", and the UKVIA will pass the information directly on to Tranding Standards.

Make A Report Now

Kate Pike, Trading Standards’ Lead Officer for Vaping, says “[We] fully support the campaign and hope it will be effective in encouraging people to report instances of retailers selling to children or vapes that are either counterfeits or non-compliant with UK regulations. Most retailers work hard to ensure they only sell to adults, so any intelligence, which enables us to target enforcement at those who are breaking the law, is very much welcomed.”

Summing Up

The issues surrounding black market vapes aren’t going to disappear on their own, that’s why we need to work together as consumers and retailers to stop the illegal trade that damages the reputation of vaping and puts the public at risk. If you have any questions about illegal vapes or vaping in general, get in touch with our experts. They’re available seven days a week and are contactable by phone, email and live chat.

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