Home Business News London home to a quarter of the UK’s illegal vape sellers in 2023

London home to a quarter of the UK’s illegal vape sellers in 2023

by LLB Reporter
21st Feb 24 7:03 am

Though just 1% of those caught selling illegal vapes are fined or penalised, according to FOI data.

In 2023, over a quarter of a million illegal vapes were seized from London, making up a fifth of the UK’s total. Illegal vapes haven’t gone through the usual rigorous product safety tests, and risk causing serious harm and health risks to the user.

New data shows illegal vapes were seized from nearly 3,000 unscrupulous sellers in 2023 across the UK and from almost 800 sellers in London. Despite this, less than 1% of the capital’s sellers were fined.

In 2023, over one and a half million illegal vapes were seized in the UK, enough for three to be sold every minute, according to the 2024 Illegal Vaping Report.

This report analyses the latest Freedom of Information request from 152 local authorities, obtained by Vape Club, and follows the Vape Retailer and Distributor Licensing framework launch to engage the government and authorities in developing methods to stop the vaping black market.

The majority of illegal vapes seized in 2023 came from the London boroughs of Hillingdon (224,454), Hounslow (16,830) and Westminster (8,790). Westminster, London’s political capital, also had 520 cases of sellers in possession of illegal vaping products, the highest in the UK.

The UK’s import hotspots

London is surrounded by import hubs – including Heathrow, Gatwick, and Luton airport, as well as the Ports of Dover and London – which are being targeted to supply the capital’s unscrupulous retailers pushing the illegal vaping epidemic.

Heathrow Airport is one of the biggest and most-used airports on the planet. Situated in the London borough of Hillingdon, 224,454 illegal vapes were seized. The authority ranked second in the UK for the number of illegal vapes seized in 2023.

Situated in between Luton airport and London, Hertfordshire saw 122,214 vape seizures in 2023.

Kent, with the Port of Dover, was the local authority with the highest number of illegal vapes seized (281,133) in 2023.

Dan Marchant, Director of the UK’s largest vaping and vape pod retailer, Vape Club, said, “The unregulated illegal vape trade mirrors the issues once prevalent in the cigarette black market, including youth usage, potentially dangerous products, and unregulated retail sales.

“The best deterrent for any crime is the likelihood of being caught and right now that is incredibly low, and rogue retailers are taking full advantage of this. We have to create an environment where there is much more chance of being caught.

“Currently, the maximum fine that can be handed out is £2500 but in reality, the fines given out are much, much lower. We completely welcome the move to allow trading standards to issue on-the-spot fines, but we would like to see those fines increased to at least £10,000 and increase the fine for repeat offenders.”

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