Some vapes falsely claiming to be ‘nicotine-free’ are being sold on Britain’s high streets, analysis shows.
Inter Scientific – which tests products to make sure they comply with regulations – examined more than 50 vape brands sold in England and Wales.
It found eight devices marketed as not containing addictive substances, sold in high street shops, but actually containing nicotine, while one contained as much nicotine as full strength e-cigarettes.
This blackcurrant-flavored option contained nearly the maximum levels of the stimulant, despite the packaging suggesting there was none.
In addition, the probe also identified dozens of vapes with an oversized tank, with the worst offender being more than twice the legal limit.
Under current regulations, the tank capacity of the vape cannot exceed 2ml, while the legal limit for nicotine is set at 2 percent or 20mg/ml. But one device recorded levels more than 50 percent above the legal limit, while eight others that claimed to be nicotine-free were found to contain a substance, Inter Scientific said.
Laboratory analysis of the 52 products purchased in England also found that 73 percent were above the 2ml capacity limit. These products were sold in stores in Birmingham, Staffordshire, Dudley, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hertfordshire and Wales, Inter Scientific said. A MailOnline investigation earlier this month discovered ‘dupes’ of Chupa Chups, Jolly Rancher, Calypso and Rubicon – all on Oxford Street (pictured)
Under current regulations, a vape tank cannot exceed 2ml, while the legal limit for nicotine is set at 2 percent or 20mg/ml.
Any vape with content exceeding these amounts is illegal and should not be sold to the public, regulators say.
But Inter Scientific, which shared its data with The protectordiscovered that Dr. Gorilla King Blackcurrant Grape Slush 19.7mg/ml contained nicotine even though it was supposed to be nicotine free.
Seven other devices claiming to be nicotine-free were also found to contain the substance, Inter Scientific said.
The product tester also found that of the 52 vapes it bought in England, 73 percent were above the legal tank capacity of 2ml.
And more than 40 percent of vaporizers contained 5ml of liquid or more – more than double the legal limit.
It also found that the product with the highest nicotine content – Vape With a Bang Havana Tobacco’s 6 percent disposable device – contained 29.35 mg/ml.
This is above the legal limit.
These products were sold in stores in Birmingham, Staffordshire, Dudley, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hertfordshire and Wales, Inter Scientific said.
MailOnline was unable to track down the product manufacturers for comment.
None of the products were listed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which has a vaping reporting schedule so that any damage caused by the devices can be recorded.
Inter Scientific partners with Trading Standards to tackle the sale of illegal products that are flooding the high street.
More than 1.4 tonnes of illicit vaping was seized in the North East of England alone in the last six months of 2022.
David Lawson, chief executive at Inter Scientific and a fellow of the Organization for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs, told The Guardian: ‘We have seen a large increase in the number of illegal vape products seized under trading standards and sent for analysis .
“Although these products pose no direct health risk, they circumvent UK regulations.”
It comes as Health Minister Neil O’Brien unveiled plans last week to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s amid government concerns over a rise in vaping among children .
NHS data for 2021 shows that 9 per cent of 11 to 15 year old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6 per cent in 2018.
NHS Digital data shows the number of children who are current vapers has surged in recent years, from 6 per cent in 2018 to 9 per cent in 2021
The 15 recommendations to help England go smoke free by 2030 from the Khan review published last July
Experts have highlighted their concern that children are not fully aware of the contents of e-cigarettes.
But under the anti-smoking push, one million cigarette addicts will also receive e-cig ‘starter kits’ as part of a ‘swap to stop’ scheme.
The free kits will be offered to nearly one in five of all smokers in England at an estimated cost of £45 million over two years.
Health chiefs hope the world’s first policy will make England smoke-free despite a deluge of evidence cataloging the health risks of vaping.
Almost every high street in the country now has a dedicated shop, parading e-cigs, which cost as little as £5.
About 6 million people smoke in the UK and an estimated 64,000 deaths each year.
It also costs the NHS £2.4 billion every year to treat smoking-related conditions.
Rates have fallen over the past decade, but experts say it’s still not close enough to reach the smoke-free goal.
However, vaping rates have exploded in the same time.
E-cigarettes still contain harmful toxins, according to a study by researchers at the Medical University of Silesia in Poland.
And their long-term effect on health remains a mystery, with some doctors fearing a surge in lung disease and even cancer in the decades to come.
Experts are also concerned that the high nicotine content could raise blood pressure and cause other heart problems.
In February, major retailers withdrew sales of best-selling Elf Bar vapes after a Mail investigation found the company was violating nicotine limits law.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and WH Smith recalled all Elf Bar products and Morrisons and Asda removed the top ranked Elf Bar 600 range from their shelves.
It came after independent lab tests commissioned by the Mail found the 600 line of e-cigarettes to be at least 50 percent above the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid.