By David Humphreys, Local Democracy Reporter
Tens of thousands of illegal vapes with a street value of almost a quarter of a million pounds have been seized across Liverpool in the last eight months.
A series of stings is continuing throughout the city by Liverpool Council’s alcohol and tobacco unit, Merseyside Police and Public Health Liverpool in a bid to clamp down on the sale of counterfeit vaping products. The latest operation has led to the seizure of more than 1,000 contraband vapes with a street value of £12,000.
This takes the total haul to 19,000 products totalling a street value of £228,000 since April last year.
All inspected premises receive a closure order warning letter spelling out the consequences if they re-stock or re-offend in the future. Conditions relating to the retail of vapes are set out clearly in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.
The requirements restrict e-cigarette tanks to a capacity of no more than 2ml, providing a maximum of 600 puffs, and restrict the maximum volume of nicotine-containing e-liquid for sale in one refill container to 10ml.
Additionally, e-liquids are restricted to a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml. This guidance however is being overlooked by some retailers.
Councillor Harry Doyle, cabinet member for culture and public health, who attended the raids, said: “Removing these illegal products from sale in our city is a big priority as we know the damage it’s doing, especially to young people. I would urge smokers who chose vaping as a way of quitting cigarettes to buy them from reputable dealers.
“The team do a brilliant job clamping down on this illegal trade and they have further operations planned so our message to those involved in illegal trading of vapes is clear – don’t do it or expect a visit.”
Professor Matthew Ashton, Liverpool director of public health, added: “It is a fact that vaping products are now the most common aid used by adults in England who want to stop smoking. However, vapes are not harmless. The short-term effects include coughing, headaches, dizziness and sore throats, and the long-term effects of vaping are, as yet, unknown.
“Selling illicit products increases the risk of these and other side effects, and therefore I strongly encourage people to make sure they buy legitimate vaping products from reputable suppliers. For the protection of those who choose to vape we will continue to take the necessary action to ensure the products being used comply with regulations.”
Merseyside Police Sergeant Simon Newman said: “The vaping industry is subject to strict controls and regulation, and it is illegal to breach those regulations for a reason. Operations such as this are about protecting the public from the potential harm that can be caused when the ingredients and quantities contained in vapes do not comply with the regulations.
“Those who seek to profit from the sale of counterfeit vapes care little for the risks to the health of their customers. We will continue to help our partners ensure illegal vaping products are removed from sale in Merseyside, and support prosecutions to ensure those who supply them are brought to justice.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)