Vaping: Sale of illegal e-cigs becoming 'increasing problem' as £5,000 seized in one day in Cardiff

There is an "increasingly significant problem" of illegal e-cigarettes being sold in Wales with almost £100,000 worth of vapes being seized in the last two years, according to Trading Standards.

It comes as ITV cameras filmed the moment an unannounced inspection at one shop in Cardiff saw £1,800 worth of illegal vapes being taken away in one go.

  • What is an illegal vape?

The products were checked for their strength with more than £1,800 worth seized

According to UK law, an electronic cigarette must not exceed 2 millilitres (the equivalent of around 700 puffs), and nicotine-containing liquid which is presented for retail sale in an electronic cigarette or refill container must not contain nicotine in excess of 20 milligrams per millilitre.

In an investigation by Y Byd ar Bedwar, the footage shows two underage girls telling the shopkeeper they have been served before after he refuses to sell them a vape when Trading Standards arrive.

“There are unfortunately a number of shops that do sell to children", Mr Clack said .

Trading Standards arrived as two underage girls were at the counter

"It’s difficult to put a figure [on it] but what we have found is that the incidents of underaged sales to children for vapes is greater than cigarettes and tobacco which is really unfortunate.” 

This business had recently received guidance in relation to age restricted sales.

Thomas Clack and his team ended up seizing 157 illegal vapes with an estimated retail value of more than £1,800 from the one store. 

Commenting on the seizure Thomas Clack said “I would say that there’s quite a large amount here, more than the average place where we find these being sold.”

157 illegal vapes were taken away from one shop

After visiting 10 retail premises in the Cardiff area, the team seized 461 illegal vapes across seven stores with an estimated retail value of £5,030.

Thomas Clack said, “It’s been successful in terms of we’ve removed products from shelves. It’s disappointing to find that shops are still selling these illegal vapes.” 

“My main concern really is that nicotine is highly addictive, and that there may be a generation of people who start vaping - and possibly children that start vaping for the first time and get addicted to that substance and end up having a lifelong addiction.” 

The Welsh Government said it is looking at "what more we can do" to prevent the use of e-cigarettes by children and young people.

It said those details will be published later this year.

In a statement it said, "Reports indicating an increase in use of these products by young people are very concerning. As part of our strategy to deliver a smoke-free Wales by 2030, we are looking at what more we can do to prevent the use of e-cigarettes by children and young people and will publish that work later this year.

“E-cigarettes should never be used by children, young people and non-smokers.  It is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes or e-liquids to someone under 18. It is also an offence for adults to buy, or try to buy, tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under the age of 18.”

  • Catch up on Y Byd ar Bedwar here. The programme has English language subtitles.