Counterfeit products have been a thing for as long as I can remember. Everything is counterfeited or cloned these days, from clothing, to trainers, to handbags and now more so, vape related products.
I’ve had the unfortunate luck of ending up with counterfeit coils for one of my vapes I bought online in the past and the quality comparison was huge compared to the genuine article. But I didn’t know they were counterfeit until I noticed the flaws in packaging quality and certain information missing, and I soon realised I’d been conned.
The biggest thing counterfeited on the vape market today though is Disposable vapes. Disposables are being sold in the UK with a nicotine content of over 20mg, and with more than 2ml of vape juice inside them which is breaching TPD legislations and have likely been imported illegally.
In this article, I’m going to give you some pointers on how to spot a counterfeit disposable, why you should avoid buying them, how the press are chastising vaping because of these counterfeit products, and what is being done by trading standards to crack down on these being sold in shops.
Catching out a counterfeit disposable vape
There are several different ways to spot a counterfeit disposable vape or vaping related products, and the biggest tell-tale sign is the packaging they come in.
TPD legislations were bought in to the UK in 2016 in an effort to regulate the sale of tobacco and tobacco related products. One of the key points is that any product sold that contains nicotine must display a clear large health warning that the product contains nicotine and also nicotine content information, for example “THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS NICOTINE WHICH IS A HIGH ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE”
It should also include a small leaflet stating the hazard and precaution statements, nicotine dose per puff as well as other key information.
If the disposable vape you intend to purchase doesn’t have one or any of these, steer well clear as they have not had to pass UK TPD checks and are likely counterfeit.
Another part of the TPD legislations stated that the nicotine levels in vape juice must be no higher than 20mg in strength, and that vaping products must not have a juice capacity larger than 2ml.
A lot of counterfeit disposables will say they contain 5% nicotine, which is equivalent to 50mg in strength! And also, they flaunt a much higher puff count than compliant products, from anywhere between 1500-3000 puffs which means there is definitely more than 2ml of vape juice contained in the device. So not only are they breaking one TPD rule, they’re breaking two by the capacity and nicotine strength being way over the legal allowance. So not is it illegal to sell these devices in the UK, they’ve likely been obtained through a non-legal channel as no reputable vape retailer would be able to sell these.
Picture credit: Northumberland County Council website
Cracking down on the counterfeits
With the rise of counterfeit disposables entering the UK market, Trading Standards have had their work cut out for them in their attempts to crack down on retailers selling these counterfeit products.
Numerous news articles from local councils have been printed declaring how their tackling the war on counterfeit disposables, with their local trading standards authorities entering premises and seizing 1000s of counterfeit products around the country.
Northumberland Council, Manchester Council, Birmingham Council and Norfolk County Council have all reported over 2000 counterfeit disposables were seized from shops within their local areas cross a two month period, with most containing six times more than the legal limit of vape juice permitted, not having the correct precautionary information displayed, and the nicotine content being over 20mg.
For those who are not aware, the punishment these shops could face range from £2500-£5000 in fines and even up to 12 months imprisonment for repeat offenders. If you think a retailer near you is selling these counterfeit devices, alert your local trading standards authority immediately.
The other problem found with these types of shops selling disposable vapes is they are the main sellers to underage vapers. Action on Smoking and Health recently published an article with the figures conducted from a recent survey on underage people vaping and went in to detail how the Chartered Trading Standards Institute carried out 442 test purchases by using young people under the legal age (18) to try and purchase a disposable vape from various different retailers. Illegal sales were made 145 times, equalling a 33% non-compliance rate, with underage sales being highest in mobile phone shops or discount shops. And to make matters worse, over a quarter of the devices bought illegally were actually non compliant with TPD Legislations and shouldn’t have been on sale in the first place.
Counterfeit products in the Media
Vaping has always been a hot topic in the media, not so much for the positive effects it has on peoples lives, but more so for the negative side of vaping, especially since disposables have started becoming the latest trend, and misinformation is rife amongst these articles unfortunately.
The Daily Mail published an article recently regarding a TikTok video that had gone viral of a doctor stating the dangers of disposable vapes, with them containing up to 125 cigarettes worth of nicotine, and causing adverse health effects such as bleeding gums, coughing, and dizziness.
My main gripe with these articles and videos created is that it doesn’t stress enough that the disposable vapes these teenagers are using and becoming “addicted” to are counterfeit products and should not be sold in the UK! The entire vaping industry gets tarred with the same brush by the media that all vaping products are as bad for you as these counterfeit disposables being sold.
Unfortunately, they are also being marketed by imitating reliable and long standing manufacturers name’s such as Geek Bar Pro, which is unfair to Geek Bar who make compliant only products and are well respected within the vaping industry.
“Geek Bar Pro” Disposables that are being sold on a UK website. Advertising 4.5ml juice capacity and 5%/50mg nicotine content which is against the law.
To conclude on this topic of counterfeit disposables, I believe that the crackdown happening now is good, but more needs to be done to get rid of these from the market for good.
The government needs to intervene and provide more funding and support to local authorities if they want to see more of a crackdown.
The negative media attention these things are bringing is harming the vaping industry more and more with each article produced. The vaping industry has been through the ringer ever since its birth, and the less negative media and more positive media on the benefits of vaping would be amazing to see.