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Call for more funding as Trading Standards seize illegal vapes worth £10m in London

September 26, 2022

Illegal tobacco seized in Newham crackdown (Photo: Newham Council)

The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) has called for more funding for Trading Standards and regulatory services following the seizure of nearly £10 million of illegal vaping devices in London alone.

All 33 London authorities have worked together in targeted ‘Cost of Living’ operations to remove illegal vapes from sale.

“London Trading Standards have done an incredible job with limited resources to remove illegal products from the market. Non-compliant vape products are also associated with non-compliant sales, often to underage consumers. Our members applaud any actions that suppress this illegal trade, as it unfairly brings our sector into disrepute,” Gillian Golden, chief executive of the IBVTA, said.

“The IBVTA will continue to assist and enable Trading Standards and other bodies with intelligence and training to combat non-compliant products. We also urge vapers to avoid illicit vapes sold by unscrupulous traders.”

As well as removing illegal products, officers from around London have worked with businesses to educate them about the importance of only stocking tested, or compliant, devices. Where intelligence has indicated that vapes are being sold to minors, teams have conducted test purchases and taken enforcement action.

In addition, nearly two million illegal cigarettes have been seized in the last 18 months since Trading Standards teams began working on an HMRC funded operation to clamp down on the illegal tobacco market.

As well as the 1.8 million cigarettes uncovered by sniffer dogs, 643kgs of hand rolling tobacco has been taken from various hides in shops and nearby storage units as part of the project.

Online marketplaces Amazon and eBay have also been the focus of the region’s attention with nearly 5,000 listings removed from both sites in total in just two months.

Weapons, corrosives, fireworks and skin lightening creams containing banned chemicals were identified in a sweep of the websites.

Commenting on the overall work or the region’s teams, Nishi Patel, chairman of the London Trading Standards, said: “Trading Standards teams across the London region have been working tirelessly to protect their residents against unscrupulous and dishonest traders and to ensure reputable businesses can thrive in a fair marketplace.

“This is the fifth year for London Trading Standards Week where we showcase the work of officers, from tackling rogue letting agents to the seizing of illicit tobacco and e-cigarettes from our streets.  It is hoped that by raising the awareness of the work, consumers will feel empowered in their choices and traders will trade fairly thus safeguarding our youth and most vulnerable members of our communities.”