In the last few years, there has been a nationwide increase in sales of disposable e-cigarettes, more commonly known as vapes.
UK law has created a specific set of regulations known as the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. This makes it clear what vapes can and cannot be sold in the UK.
Other things these regulations cover include:
- the amount of nicotine that a device can legally contain
- the volume of the nicotine containing liquid
- specific safety warnings to protect consumers
- information about who is responsible for placing the product on the UK market, so that they can be contacted.
Whilst a large number of these products are seen to comply with the UK law that governs them, many have been made for the American market, where the limits for nicotine strength and volume are higher.
Other products circulating in the UK do meet the UK limits for volume and strength. However, they do not have the correct information on their packaging or in an information leaflet, and/or are not registered and approved by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
What you should look for when buying a disposable e-cigarette
Things you should look out for when buying a disposable e-cigarette include:
- 2ml - the maximum volume permitted of nicotine containing liquid. Any product that has more than 2ml of nicotine containing liquid cannot be sold in the UK
- 2% - the maximum level of nicotine permitted in products on sale in the UK, also written as 20mg/ml
- 600 puffs - the industry agreed maximum number of puffs that would be acceptable in the UK. A greater number of puffs could mean that the product cannot be legally sold in the UK
- a UK address - the producer or responsible person in the UK must give their details on the packaging or on a leaflet with the product
- the correct warning of “This product contains Nicotine which is a highly addictive substance” - this must cover a third of the back and the front surface of the packaging and cannot say anything different.
All unit packs of e-cigarettes must include a leaflet which includes some of the following information. If all this information can fit legibly on the pack, then there is no need to include a leaflet:
- instructions for use and storage of the product including a reference that the product is not recommended for use by young people and non-smokers
- warnings for specific risk groups, such as pregnant people
- possible adverse effects
- addictiveness and toxicity
- contact details of the producer or a UK representative
- a list of all ingredients in descending order by their weight
- an indication of the nicotine content and delivery per dose
- the batch number
- a recommendation to keep the product out of reach of children
- a warning stating that “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance”
- the relevant tactile, raised, toxicity warning triangle.
The packaging must not contain anything that:
- promotes the product by creating incorrect claims about it characteristics, health effects, risks or emissions
- suggests the product is less harmful, has health benefits or environmental advantages
- refers to taste, smell or other additives (except flavourings) or the absence of such things
- resembles a food or a cosmetic product
- suggests economic advantage, for example offers a discount such as 2 for 1, or vouchers.
View the full details of how e-cigarettes are covered by the regulations.
Make a report
If you think you have bought an e-cigarette from a Medway retailer that should not be sold in the UK, then contact Medway Trading Standards by:
- phoning 01634 333 333
- emailing email@example.com.
If you believe that e-cigarettes are being sold to under 18s, you can:
- report the retailer on our underage sales hotline on 01634 334 455
- email firstname.lastname@example.org.