Liverpool Council continues targeting businesses selling illegal vapes

Shops across Liverpool are being shut down if found caught selling illegal vapes.

Since October last year, eight retailers have been identified and closed by the city council for selling health-damaging vapes, often to underage users. In one business alone, more than 1,200 illegal items were seized by officials.

Leaders are urging people to be mindful of the risks of unregulated devices with the message – if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.

Using legislation that was first used during the Covid-19 pandemic to close businesses that were engaging in anti-social behaviour, the new approach has led to thousands of illicit vapes being taken off the streets. Liverpool Council is the first in the North West of England to adopt this strategy. 

Shops found to be selling these illegal products are issued with fines and three-month closure orders.

As well as the illegality of the vapes, they also present a clear threat to public health. Research has shown that as illicit vapes are not regulated, many contain banned ingredients and oversized tanks for the nicotine liquid. When illicit vapes have been analysed, some were found to contain high levels of lead, nickel and chromium. 

Many of the vapes seized by the local authority have been found to have nicotine concentration levels that are much higher than the legal maximum of 20mg per millilitre, as well as other banned substances such as colourings, caffeine and taurine.

Conditions relating to the retail of vapes are set out clearly in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Cllr Harry Doyle, Liverpool Council cabinet member for health, wellbeing and culture, said, “It is fantastic to see so many of these illegal products being removed from our streets, particularly as many can end up in the hands of our young people. Liverpool Council is leading the way through this new approach in dealing with illegal sales.

“In many cases, these vapes have been designed with young people in mind, and there are clear health risks to these products given their illicit nature. We would urge smokers who use vapes as a means to quit smoking to buy them from reputable sellers.”

Professor Matthew Ashton, Liverpool director of public health, added, “The risks that illicit vapes pose to health is clear, with many of them including ingredients that are unregulated. Legal vapes continue to be the most popular and effective smoking aid used by smokers trying to quit. 

“While many choose to use them, it is important for people to be mindful of where they buy their vapes to ensure they meet the appropriate requirements. Our guidance continues to be that if you smoke, vaping is safer. If you don’t smoke – don’t vape.”

Image: LCC

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