UK ports and airports overwhelmed with illegal vape seizures

10 June 2024

UK ports and airports overwhelmed with illegal vape seizures

The UK’s freight terminals, airports and seaports have become the unexpected frontline in the battle against the illegal vaping surge, with enough seizures for three to be sold every minute, according to Vape Club.

Recent data from the largest vaping and vape-pod retailer in the UK, Vape Club, found that major London airports, Manchester and the Port of Dover, are being used as supply routes to “further the UK’s illegal vaping epidemic”.

It found that these regions saw the highest number of illegal vaping devices seized in 2023, accounting for 42% of the UK’s total.

In 2023, over one and a half million illegal vapes were seized in the UK, according to the 2024 Illegal Vaping Report.

Kent, home to the Port of Dover, was the local authority with the highest number of illegal vapes seized in 2023 at over a quarter of a million.

Heathrow Airport’s local authority, Hillingdon, seized almost a quarter of a million illegal vapes last year, and Manchester Airport saw 158,434 illegal vapes seized.

“The findings raise concerns about the potentially dangerous illegal vapes entering the UK at its borders,” said the report.

The Loadstar previously reported that Cargolux banned the transport of disposable electronic cigarettes, or vapes, on all its flights.

The Luxembourg cargo carrier said it was a response to growing concern about the adverse effects of these products on both public health and the environment.

Director of Vape Club, Dan Marchant, said: “The unregulated illegal vape trade mirrors the issues once prevalent in the cigarette black market, including youth usage, potentially dangerous products, and unregulated retail sales.”

And the UK government’s recently proposed disposable vape ban has “opened more doors for the illegal vape black market”, experts have claimed.

Several other countries have also imposed bans on the purchase of disposable vapes and electronic cigarettes, including Brazil, China and India.

Vape Club urged for trading standards and local authorities to “keep up with the scale of the issue”, and said more support was needed.

Mr Marchant added: “The best deterrent for any crime is the likelihood of being caught – right now that is incredibly low, and rogue retailers are taking full advantage of this.

“We completely welcome the move to allow trading standards to issue on-the-spot fines, but we would like to see those fines increased to at least £10,000 and increase the fine for repeat offenders.” The current maximum fine is £2,500.

By Charlotte Goldstone