Sales of disposable vapes has been booming in the UK, and new data collated by online retailer Vape Club has found that some retailers have seen nearly tenfold increase in sales, with figures rising by up to 883 per cent between May 2021 and May 2022.
However, the retailer also called for greater enforcement of the regulations amid rising cases of counterfeit disposable vapes sold illegally through social media platforms, particularly TikTok where some fake Elf Bar profiles are followed by up to half a million young people.
Vape Club noted that the sales growth has been driven by the increasing popularity of Elf Bar products, which have become one of the most popular vaping products. Elf Bar sales really started increasing from late last year, with sales doubling so far in the second quarter of this year from the previous quarter.
While, the figures released by the retailer represent fully age-verified sales, the vaping industry has raised concerns that high demand for Elf Bars has created a black market in counterfeit, non-compliant devices, which are often sold to underage users.
On TikTok alone, there are around 205 unofficial accounts selling Elf Bar devices. Some of these accounts are followed by half a million young people and parents are now being urged to educate their children on the dangers associated with illegal vaping products.
“It’s worrying that there are so many fake social media accounts posing as retailers. Not only will unscrupulous people sell vaping products to underage users this way, but the products themselves might not even be genuine. Worse still, these fake products could be dangerous,” Dan Marchant, founding member of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) and director at Vape Club, said.
“Reputable sellers have safeguards in place to ensure that children can’t buy vaping products. For instance, we conduct full digital age verification on every new customer before we allow an order to go out the door.”
Marchant noted that, while regulations in the UK are great on paper, enforcement is “almost entirely lacking.”
“So when illegal vaping products are widely available, or when vapes get into the hands of kids, the vaping industry gets blamed. Yet the responsible side of the industry are literally begging for the authorities to enforce the regulations and take serious action against the businesses flouting the rules,” he said.
“What’s needed is a licensing scheme, so proper age verification tests can be applied to every retailer. And there must be higher fines, applied to every breach, for the rogue sellers. The UKVIA is calling for the fines to be raised to at least £10,000, which would be a real deterrent.
“And action is needed urgently, with disposable vape sales rising so quickly. A full quarter of our sales, for example, are now disposable vapes. Underage sales and illicit vaping products, of any type, are where the government should be concentrating its crackdown.”