An illegal vape pen among 13,000 others seized from Luton shop had nicotine “equivalent of 500 cigarettes”, trading standards officers have said.
The vape was one of more than 13,000 seized in Luton during the past 18 months. Six shopkeepers had their leases terminated by their landlords after the council told them about the illegal sales.
“The people who sell them quite often sell to anyone,” Mick Smith, from Luton Trading Standards, said.
Laboratory testing of the products found some exceeded legal nicotine levels of 2 per cent, including a cola flavoured vape pen, which contained 4.7 per cent nicotine. Disposable vape pens that exceed 600 puffs, containing 2ml of liquid and 2 per cent nicotine content, are illegal.
Sally Cartwright, director of public health in Luton, said the number of young people using vapes was rising.
“There is evidence that young people are more sensitive to nicotine and the long-term implications are concerning,” BBC quoted Cartwright as saying. “We are now seeing more young people vaping than smoking, which is a real worry.”
Liz Smith, from Luton Borough Council’s trading standards, said the “net is closing in” on premises selling illegal vapes and closure orders would be considered.
“We’ve been building up intelligence for a number of months,” she said.
It comes amid calls for plain packaging of vaping products in the light of increasing use of e-cigarettes among teens.
People under 18 can not legally buy a vape in the UK yet YouGov data for Britain suggests experimental vaping among 11 to 17-year-olds rose from 5.6 per cent in 2014 to 11.6 per cent in 2023.
It is also being said that many children start vaping despite never having smoked before, meaning they are not using it as a tool to quit. Health experts are calling for the packaging of such products should be made less attractive to young people but not banned.