Michael Hearty, Public Protection Enforcement Officer and Cllr Harry Doyle with seized vapes

Liverpool City Council continues to successfully target illegal vape sales

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Liverpool City Council’s zero-tolerance approach against retailers who sell dangerous vapes is continuing to have an impact.

Eight retailers have been shut down since October 2023 for selling health-damaging vapes, often to young people who are under age.

Using legislation that was first used during the Covid-19 pandemic to close businesses that were engaging in anti-social behaviour, this new approach has led to thousands of illicit vapes being taken off the streets – with over 1,200 being seized from one business alone. Liverpool City Council is the first in the North West of England to adopt this strategy. Shops that are found to be selling these illegal products are issued with fines and three-month closure orders.

As well as the illegality of the vapes, they also present a clear threat to public health. Research has shown that as illicit vapes are not regulated, many contain banned ingredients and oversized tanks for the nicotine liquid. When illicit vapes have been analysed, some were found to contain high levels of lead, nickel and chromium.

Many of the vapes seized by Liverpool City Council have been found to have nicotine concentration levels that are much higher than the legal maximum of 20mg per millilitre, as well as other banned substances such as colourings, caffeine and taurine.

Conditions relating to the retail of vapes are set out clearly in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Councillor Harry Doyle, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, said: “It is fantastic to see so many of these illegal products being removed from our streets, particularly as many can end up in the hands of our young people. Liverpool City Council is leading the way through this new approach in dealing with illegal sales.

In many cases, these vapes have been designed with young people in mind, and there are clear health risks to these products given their illicit nature. We would urge smokers who use vapes as a means to quit smoking to buy them from reputable sellers.”

Professor Matthew Ashton, Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, said: “The risks that illicit vapes pose to health is clear, with many of them including ingredients that are unregulated. Legal vapes continue to be the most popular and effective smoking aid used by smokers trying to quit. While many choose to use them, it is important for people to be mindful of where they buy their vapes to ensure they meet the appropriate requirements. Our guidance continues to be that if you smoke, vaping is safer. If you don’t smoke – don’t vape.”

Liverpool Waterfront