LB Hounslow seize £370,000 illegal vapes at Heathrow

Image above: a seized fake vape

Warning issued about illegal vapes containing hidden nicotine 

Health officials with Hounslow Council are warning consumers about harmful hidden nicotine found in non-compliant vapes, after £370,000 worth of them were seized at Heathrow since August.

The Council’s Trading Standards team seized the vapes before they entered the country, preventing them from going into the supply chain and being used by the public. All the confiscated vapes have been destroyed.

These items look virtually identical to vapes and e-cigarettes on sale to the public which comply with UK legislation. Some were misleadingly labelled to suggest they did not contain highly addictive nicotine when they did. Labelling on the front of some boxes stated the vapes contained 0% nicotine, yet descriptions on the rear of the boxes suggested that they did contain nicotine.

In one example, a consignment of vapes seized by officers was listed as containing only fruit and floral flavours and was nicotine free. When these items were tested, they contained one per cent nicotine. This is enough to legally warrant it to be displayed on the front of the packaging. Officers also say that some importers avoid using descriptions such as ‘vapes’ on their customs declarations to get them into the country undetected.

In a separate operation Trading Standards and police carried out a test purchase exercise at seven premises within Hounslow. Under the supervision of a plain-clothed police officer, a 14-year-old police cadet attempted to buy a vaping product at each of the premises.  On two occasions the under-age volunteer was sold a vape. It is an offence to sell any product containing nicotine to children under 18.

Don’t start vaping, says council Leader

Image: Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, said:

“We want to keep people in our borough safe from these potentially harmful vapes. Our Trading Standards team has prevented thousands of these illegal products from being used by adults and children.

“Vapes and e-cigarettes can be really helpful to those people in our borough who are giving up smoking cigarettes. However, we would urge residents who do not already use them not to start.

“It is particularly concerning that we have found evidence of these vapes being sold to children in our borough. Thankfully, the majority of retailers in our borough act responsibly and play by the rules.

“Our messages to those who don’t is simply – you will get caught. Always ask for ID when you are selling vapes to young people and if you are unsure then do not sell them.

“These vapes contain nicotine, which can be highly addictive, and other chemicals and flavourings which are entering your lungs when you inhale them.
“The long-term health risks of vaping are still not fully understood, so if you do not vape already, please don’t start.”

The maximum penalty for selling nicotine products to anyone under 18 is a £2,500 fine.

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