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    Illegal vapes with high levels of lead, nickel and chromium seized from Tipton shops

    Illegal vapes were found stuffed inside an oven during a Tipton shop raid. (Photo: Sandwell Council via LDRS)

    By Harry Leach, Local Democracy Reporter

    Council chiefs have issued a health warning after police seized illegal vapes and tobacco during two shop raids in Tipton. The illicit items had a street value of more than £20,000.

    Offending items were also found concealed inside an extractor fan and behind a specially adapted shelving unit. Trading standard officers from Sandwell Council joined police for the raids as part of its Safer 6 campaign.

    Both premises are now under investigation, the authority said. Illegal vapes have been found to contain high levels of lead, nickel and chromium, as well as nicotine in excess of UK regulations.

    Coun Syeda Khatun, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in vaping as an alternative to cigarettes over the past few years. Originally aimed at those attempting to give up smoking, the bright colours and sweet flavours are now worryingly attracting younger audiences.

    “Illegal vapes, such as those seized during these visits, have an additional public health risk. They often have excessively high levels of nicotine, above the limits set by law, and will not have been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This makes them highly addictive and potentially harmful to a person’s health.”

    She added “it is essential” for store owners to “remain vigilant” when selling legal vapes to customers and to ensure they’re aged 18 or over. Liann Brookes-Smith, Sandwell’s interim director of Public Health, said: “Our hard work shows our strong commitment to stopping illegal tobacco and vapes in our area.

    “These products can harm our residents’ health, so it’s crucial we limit their availability. We understand that vapes following the law are much safer than smoking and can help reduce smoking rates.

    “However, illegal vapes are risky because they haven’t gone through safety tests and there are severe harm from such vapes. They can dispense too much nicotine, banned substances, or have large tanks encouraging overconsumption of nicotine.

    “Young people may use them because they’re cheap and sold where ID checks are not strict. Vaping isn’t for kids – we do not fully understand the longer-term impacts from the availability of high nicotine doses available from vaping. If you don’t smoke, you shouldn’t vape.”

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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