Two illicit e-cigarettes were sold every minute in London last year, according to figures obtained by online vendor Vape Club.
The figures show that the number of illegal e-cigarettes seized under local borough trading standards was less than one million. Heathrow is known as a hotbed for those looking to import illegal e-cigarettes into the capital after 856,780 e-cigarettes were seized in the London borough of Hillingdon last year.
The Vape Club said the findings raised concerns about potentially dangerous illegal vaping at the border entering the capital and the wider UK.
"These products include products that do not comply with UK regulations and have not been properly tested to ensure safety, as well as counterfeits of popular brands," said Dan Marchant, director of the company.
He added that the vaping industry is calling for a tougher crackdown, greater regulation and taking illegal vaping products as seriously as counterfeit cigarettes.
"For the first time ever, the number of illicit e-cigarettes seized in London last year began to approach that of counterfeit cigarettes, with 1.06 million seized on the streets. The Croydon district was found to be the capital's counterfeit cigarettes hotspot, with 100,000 seized last year 661,625. It was followed by the Borough of Newham with 343,240."
“Westminster City Council’s recent raids, backed by UKVIA representatives in Oxford Street, confiscated items worth £145,000, including 2,381 vaping pens, estimated to be four times the legal tank capacity limit. Provide legal Products from the vaping industry, and those that promote safe and legal use, are of concern," he added.
Illegal e-cigarettes can sometimes be spotted through product descriptions, specifically the number of puffs advertised, Marchant said. Under UK law, the maximum volume of [nicotine-containing] e-liquid legally contained in vaping products is 2ml, equivalent to a maximum of 500-600 puffs. Any product that claims to exceed this amount is usually a solid sign that the product is not legal and has not passed proper testing and safety measures.
“The responsible side of the industry is effectively pleading with the authorities to enforce the regulations and take tough action against businesses breaking the rules. What is needed is a licensing scheme so that proper age verification tests can be applied to each retailer. For rogue sellers , higher fines must be imposed for each breach. UKVIA is calling for fines to be raised to at least £10,000, which would be a real deterrent.”