E-cig maker reveals how to spot illegal products as ‘killer fake vapes’ spike in Birmingham

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Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

A Birmingham-based vape company is telling customers how to spot illegal products as thousands of “killer” fake vapes were removed from shop floors in the city leading to stark warning.

Earlier this month, ‘fake’ vape pens worth £14,000 were seized from Walsall shops during a Trading Standards sting operation. Some of the branded vapes reported to contain five times the amount of nicotine and e-liquid that is legal.

Jane Buxton, general manager of Birmingham-based vape company e-liquids.com, said most of the illegal vapes are being imported from China and she expects to see more in the lead up to Christmas.

“The dangers are numerous,” Birmingham Live quoted Jane as saying, who added that “non compliant nicotine levels can cause physical problems such as heart palpitations”.

Buxton recommends checking packaging, as there should be a scratch off panel with a unique verification code to check a vape’s legitimacy online, reports said.

Poor quality printing, including logos which look cheap, are also a sign to stay away, as pointed out by her. If a vape does not have a nicotine warning label or a hologram on the packaging that may also be a red flag.

“Also check it has the correct charging equipment as most vapes will now be ‘USB – C’ connection,” she added. “Fake ones will still have micro USB charging points due to cost. Real kits will have a user manual from the manufacture included in the box.”

While illegal vape kits and liquids are said to be harmful because of the high levels of nicotine as well as the fact that manufacturers haven’t complied with tobacco legislation – creating uncertainty over what they actually contain,  it is also being pointed out that illegal vapes can explode while charging.

“The worst outcome of course is death. If these things explode, catch fire or poison someone they could be deadly – hence why we are pushing for people to use reputable retailers like us – or at least know how to spot potential fakes.”

Meanwhile, the local council has claimed that seized illegal vapes were brightly coloured and fruit-flavoured, allegedly to make them more attractive to youngsters.

Trading Standards officers and police also seized thousands more disposable e-cigarettes from shops in Cheltenham, Cirencester and Newcastle, reports said.