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    London ranks among hotspots for illegal vapes

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    London region has emerged as the hotspot for illegal vapes, both in terms of demand and availability, multiple reports have concluded.

    According to a study by online website vape kit, Croydon in London has the highest numbers of searches online for illegal vapes in the country with a search volume of 378.

    Other towns named in the list are Sunderland and Gateshead.

    Guy Lawler, Managing Director of Vapekit.co.uk, said, “It’s incredibly concerning to see how illegal vapes are becoming more sought after in the UK, with many consumers having no idea that the products they’re buying are untested and potentially unsafe.

    “Retailers have a responsibility to adhere to UK vape regulations, but still, there are rogue operators, both on the high street and online, who openly sell illegal products and make no attempt to verify whether or not buyers are over 18. Enforcement by Trading Standards has been virtually non-existent in recent years, which allows these rogue retailers to continue operating with impunity.

    “Vapes are meant to help people quit smoking, but the ever-growing black market is putting people’s health at risk. Some of these non-compliant products even feature cartoon characters that attract younger people who should not be vaping.”

    In another similar study, Manchester and London are named among the UK’s hotspots for illegal vapes.

    According to a freedom of information request to local authorities put in by Vape Club, more than 250,000 illegal vapes were seized from the boroughs, including the City of London. The seizures in London made up a fifth of the UK total.

    Both Bolton and Rochdale are in the top five local areas in the UK for the most sellers caught with illegal vaping products. Westminster had the highest number of identified cases of sellers in possession of illegal vapes at 520.

    The data obtained also highlighted the role airports and seaports are playing as hotspots of illegal vape sales.

    The top three regions in 2023 with the most illegal vapes seized all had major import hubs nearby. These were Kent (281,133 vapes seized) with the port of Dover, the London borough of Hillingdon (224,454) with Heathrow Airport and Manchester (154,434), with Manchester Airport.

    Dan Marchant, director at Vape Club, said, “Currently, the maximum fine that can be handed out is £2,500 but in reality the fines given out are much, much lower.

    “We completely welcome the move to allow trading standards to issue on-the-spot fines, but we would like to see those fines increased to at least £10,000 and increase the fine for repeat offenders. The best deterrent for any crime is the likelihood of being caught and right now that is incredibly low, and rogue retailers are taking full advantage of this. We have to create an environment where there is much more chance of being caught.”

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