The Dangers Of Using Fake Vaping Products

dangers of using fake vaping products

Vaping as it stands today is probably at the strongest it has ever been since it’s inception. The reason I say this is that in recent surveys, the results have shown that there are currently over 4 million adult users of E-Cigarettes as of 2022, the highest this has ever been which is brilliant. And this works in a counter balance way, with the amount of adult smokers sitting at the lowest it’s ever been as well, so it’s proving to be having the positive effects.

Unfortunately, there’s a dark cloud looming over the industry causing issues not only to the vaping industry but also to unsuspecting users of E-Cigarettes, and that is the surge in “black market” fake vaping products being pumped out onto shelves and being sold to unknowing customers.

Like with everything that becomes popular, unscrupulous cowboys see a chance to make a quick buck and counterfeit whatever they can using the cheapest materials possible to sell to unsuspecting customers, without a care in the world at the potential dangers they are putting people into.

In this blog, I’m going to take a deep dive into the underground black market of counterfeit Vaping products, and explain what to look out for when buying your vaping vaping products, and also explaining the potential risks and dangers you could face if you use these things. Let’s get into it!

tobacco products directive banner

The Tobacco Products Directive And Why It Was Introduced

If you’re into Vaping, then chances are you’ve heard of the Tobacco Products Directive, or TPD for short as it’s more commonly known. This is the name for the group of regulations that were introduced to the Vaping industry in 2016 as an effort to regulate and bring Vaping in line with other Tobacco products.

It was also to bring a baseline of safety to all things vaping related, such as maximum Nicotine levels in vape juice, what can and cannot be used within vape juice, and various other things.

The six most significant regulations that were introduced were as follows;

  • Nicotine strength in a bottle of vape juice must not exceed 20mg.
  • Any bottles of E-Liquid that contains Nicotine must not be larger than 10ml in size.
  • Vape Tanks & Refillable/Pre-Filled Pods are limited to a maximum capacity of 2ml, where previously there was no restrictions.
  • Specific substances such as diacetyl, caffeine, taurine, and colourings are forbidden from being used in making vape juice.
  • Large and clear warnings regarding products may contain Nicotine.
  • All products intended for sale on the UK market MUST be reported to the MHRA before they’re allowed to be sold.

To put it pretty simple and straight forward, if any vaping products DO NOT meet the above criteria and adhere to the regulations, it would not be allowed to be sold on the UK market as it wouldn’t be cleared for sale, and reputable wholesalers would not be buying them to then distribute out to stores.

If you see anything being sold that is different to the above list, then that pretty much solidifies the fact that what you’re looking at is a fake and this has not been imported and distributed via the right channels like what legitimate products are!

All vape juice that we produce and sell here at Vape69 adheres to all TPD regulations and goes through stringent testing and compliance checks before being released out to general sale. On top of this, all raw materials that we use are tested separately prior to being used in making our vape juices, so have peace of mind that what you’re buying from us is of the highest quality!

There really is some serious risk with using fake vaping products, and most people are unaware of the dangers involved with using these hooky things, which I’m going to explain in more detail below.

Associated Risks Of Using Counterfeit Vaping Products


When a manufacturer makes an E-Liquid, they must adhere to all regulations within TPD and also be fully compliant when it comes to safety, because if they’re not, then the products simply won’t make it to market and be refused from going on sale.

The banned substance list for what cannot go into E-Liquid was designed and implemented as a safety net and to stop any potential harm being bought to users of E-Cigarettes. Diacetyl being the primary stand out here as it may sound familiar if you’ve read the news about Vaping within the last 5 years, and well, even modern day as it’s still bought up!

Diacetyl was the offending chemical that was found to be causing “Popcorn Lung” (sound familiar yet?) and it was found pre-TPD that some vape juices were using this as a sweetener additive, as it can create a taste of buttered popcorn, a flavour that was very popular in the early days of Vaping. But now since that sweetener is banned from being included in vape juice making, there’s no risk of catching Popcorn Lung!

You also might have seen in the news recently here in the UK about counterfeit Disposable Vapes being found to contain a strong presence of “heavy metals” such as Lead and Nickel, both of which are strictly prohibited from being included in E-Liquid that is above board and passes through TPD compliance checks. And ingesting a high amount of these things can cause serious problems to the Central Nervous System as well as brain development.

Fake E-Liquid has also been found to contain a significant amount of carcinogenic chemicals of which are the same found in Cigarettes, and the whole point of Vaping is that you’re quitting smoking to get away from these harmful chemicals, so it’s insane to think you could be ingesting them unknowingly if you’re using fake E-Liquid!

vape battery exploded


It’s pretty obvious to think what the dangers of using fake devices are, but I’ll still explain them for the benefit of this article!

We’ve established that these fake goods do not need to pass any form of safety checks, as they’re not being passed through the correct channels that do all of the safety checks so corners can be severely cut in order to make these devices in a quicker fashion and pumped out onto the market to be sold to prospective unknowing customers.

All vape devices are electronic, hence the name electronic cigarette, and if something isn’t right within the device, like the power chip, or the quality of battery used etc, then there’s going to be a huge risk of something going kaboom if you’re not careful.

The quality of components used will likely be very very low in order to keep costs down and maximize profit potential for these cowboys. And what happens when you use poor quality electrical components? Things could potentially go bang. And very easily as well!

I’ve seen it with my own eyes of a counterfeit device going wrong, in the way of the batteries “venting” as its called, which means too much power was being pushed through the battery from the circuit board, it then overheated and created a little fireworks display in front of my eyes! This is pretty scary, and can cause serious injury to a person if they’re holding it and this happens, or if it goes off when inside a trouser pocket for example.

And the thing is, with all vape devices, all the wires and circuit boards etc are self contained and you cannot see it, so you won’t actually know if it’s dangerously made especially if you bought it not knowing that it was a fake!

Vapours tongue and sore throat

Poor Quality Nicotine

As you’ve probably established by now, anything fake is made the cheapest way possible to ensure that the maximum profits can be made by these bootleggers, therefore they’re not going to be spending the big bucks to ensure that good quality Nicotine is being used.

If a poor quality Nicotine is used, then it’s just going to taste disgusting and not at all pleasurable to vape. It’ll be really harsh and carry its natural peppery taste, as even if it’s sold as “Nicotine Salts” then chances are it’s not been made properly like what actual Nicotine Salt is made!

Also, fake Disposables normally boast a huge leap in Nicotine strength from the legally allowed limit, normally 50mg and this is marketed as an attraction to lure people in who may be chasing a bigger nicotine hit. You’ll get exactly that alright, but there’s pretty much zero satisfaction coming with that and it’ll probably cause you to become “nic sick” so it’s well worth avoiding.

What Black Market Products Look Like

So I’ve explained everything about these black market products so you should be in the know, but you might actually not know what they look like without some visualisation which is what this segment of the article is all about. I’ll give some examples of what fake vape products look like so you can be vigilant and know what to look out for.

Currently, Disposable Vapes are holding the throne in the vaping world, with them being the single most used devices amongst adult vapers according to statistics. The sales of these devices have reached astronomical figures with millions being sold every week in the UK, and this is just music to a bootleggers ears, as it’s something that’s hugely popular, not complex to imitate and can be pushed out onto the shelves of shops to unknowing customers.

Below is an example of what a LEGITIMATE Disposable Vape looks like. Take note of what I have annotated on the image, and read below the image for the descriptions of each thing

elux disposable vape safety

And now I’ll move on to showing you a couple of examples of FAKE Disposable Vapes, and you can play a little game of spot the difference if you want and see if you can spot the glaringly obvious differences in these devices!

fake disposable vapes

It’s easy to spot them when it’s right here in front of you on a screen and I’ve circled them, but this is where the bootleggers lay in pray as it’s not very easy to spot to the naked/uneducated eye which is how so many of these devices are being sold on the market today.

Also keep an eye out for evidence of tampering if you’re buying a vaping device from a shop, as this could indicate that something has been done to them and it might be hard to work out what exactly has been done. It could have been opened up and had relevant safety features disabled, prefilled pods could have been cracked open and had poor quality higher nicotine strength vape juice put in, honestly these bootleggers are capable of anything and everything you can think of if it means it’ll make them money!

How To Check If Your Vape Is Legitimate

So I’ve explained what to keep a look out for when it comes to buying vape products, and there are also an additional few things you can do to check if your vape is legitimate. These bootleggers are getting smarter and smarter, and can make packaging that looks just like the original thing to fool people into buying them, but actually genuine products do feature some things that the fakes do not.

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QR/Scratch Off Codes

On pretty much all outer packaging of anything vape related, there will normally be a QR Code or a Scratch to reveal code, which you can scan or input onto the manufacturers website and this will be your way of checking the authenticity of whatever vaping product you’ve bought.

One thing to be cautious of is that the fakes will even have these on them, but the websites they go to are quite obviously not legitimate so make sure you’re paying attention when visiting these sites!

Only Use Reputable Brands

I couldn’t even count on all fingers and toes of myself as well as yours on how many vaping brands there are out there on the market today, and unfortunately this number is probably quadrupled when adding the amount of hooky brands as well.

The most reputable brands out there are Elf Bar, Geekvape, Elux, Smok, Aspire, Uwell and many more. If you see a vape device from a brand you’ve never heard of, then just do some research before making any snap purchases.

The bootleggers are smart though and will even use these brands as their own by changing it slightly for example there’s a range of Disposable Vapes out there which are fake called “Geek Bar Pro” and Geekvape have even come forward themselves and said that this is nothing to do with them, as they just produce Geek Bar and not Pro’s.

Ask Questions!

If you’re buying your vaping gear from a reputable source such as a bricks and mortar vape shop, then chances are if you ask questions you’re going to get answers which are informative and factual, because people who work behind the counter in vape shops know exactly what they’re talking about, I certainly did when I worked in one!

If you’re buying something from a shop that you may be sceptical about, just ask some simple questions about the products they’re selling and see what answers you get. For example you spot a device that features 50mg Nicotine strength, you could just quiz whether this is against the TPD regulations and if they have no idea what you’re talking about, then it’s pretty obvious that you’re likely being sold a fake by someone who has no clue on the rules and regulations of Vaping products!


I hope that this article has been helpful to you and educated you a bit further on how to keep an eye out for fake products which are unfortunately littering shelves in abundance at this present time!

Trading Standards Agencies up and down the country have been working tirelessly to get these products off of shelves and prevent them being sold to unsuspecting members of the public, seizing hundreds of thousands of devices every single week, and there’s probably still 5 times that amount still lurking around.

Funding has been given to these TSA to help combat the problem, so hopefully we will start to see a decline in the sales and availability of them being pushed out. Always be vigilant and ask questions if you’re not sure when you’re wanting to buy Vaping products, and if in any doubt, use a reputable and legitimate vaping retailer for your purchases, as you know for sure that what you’re buying is legitimate and you’re supporting the vaping industry!

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