Thousands of illegal vapes seized in Wrexham last year

MORE than 6,000 illegal vapes were seized in Wrexham last year following a crackdown by the local Trading Standards team.

Figures released by Wrexham Council under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show 6,339 illegal vapes and e-cigarettes were discovered in the county borough during 2023.

It represents a huge increase of 411 per cent compared to the 1,240 vapes confiscated in 2022, with none recorded to have been found during the previous three years.

Illicit vaping products now account for the majority of seizures in the area, with 1,516 packs of illegal cigarettes discovered last year, compared to 7,834 as recently as 2021.

A senior official from the local authority said it was particularly targeting illegal vapes due to concerns over the impact on children’s health.

It comes as some illicit vaping products have been found to contain far higher levels of nicotine than those authorised to be sold in shops.

Roger Mapleson, Wrexham’s Trading Standards lead, said: “Locally, Wrexham Trading Standards has been focussing on the availability of illegal disposable vapes.

“These have risen to prominence over the last few years and there are significant concerns regarding their popularity with non-smokers, particularly children.

“Whilst vape products can be a very effective quit-aid to people who smoke tobacco, the simple advice to non-smokers (child or adult) is, if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.

“Disposable vape products are very popular. The illegal versions are stronger than the law permits (exceeding 20mg nicotine per ml of liquid) and/or are larger than permitted (in excess of 2 ml of liquid) and/or are not correctly labelled.”

He added: “Illegal vapes are smuggled into the country and are totally unregulated, which means there are no controls on what they contain.

“Those selling illegal vapes are unlikely to pay much regard to the age restriction of 18 and will sell to children. Consequently Trading Standards does see these products as a high priority.”

While there has been a greater focus on tackling the sale of illegal vapes in recent years, the council said that illicit tobacco remains a priority.

Tobacco-related disease is still the single biggest cause of premature deaths in Wales, with over 5,000 recorded per year across the country.

In regards to vapes, Mr Mapleson urged people to look out for signs that the products they are buying could be illegal.

He said: “As a very rough guide, illegal vapes are most easily spotted by looking at the number of puffs that is claimed for the product.

“More than 600 is suspicious but illegal vapes often claim thousands of puffs.

“Also, look at the packaging to see the nicotine strength. 20ml/mg is the maximum, often quoted as two per cent. Any higher indication and it is illegal.

“Vapes on sale on social media or through the workplace or other informal markets such car boot sales are also likely to be illegal.

“Mainstream high street stores and supermarkets that sell vapes are very unlikely to be selling illegal products.”

Story by Liam Randall

Pic by Elkanah Evans

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