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Illegal vapes/e-cigarettes

The rules on vaping and reporting underage or illegal vapes

Vapes are regulated in the UK - it is illegal to sell nicotine-containing vaping products to anyone under 18 years old or for adults to buy them for those under 18 years old.

Sunderland Trading Standards regulate the selling of vapes to under 18-year-olds and the sale of non-compliant vapes to all individuals.

Actions can be taken against any trader selling vapes to underage customers or selling illegal products, including seizing products, written warnings to retailers and formal criminal investigations.

Find out more about vaping (opens new window), including what it is and frequently asked questions.

How to report underage sales

If you have any information about the sale of a vape to anyone under 18, please report it:

Report an underage sale

Illegal vapes

Vapes are regulated in the UK, with specific rules that must be stuck to. But how do we know if a vape is legal or not?

To be legally sold in the UK, nicotine containing vapes must:

  • Contain 20 mg/ml or less of nicotine (equivalent to 2% or less)
  • Not have a capacity of more than 2ml in a single use cartridge
  • Carry the health warning 'This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.'
  • Be notified to the MHRA and listed on its website

If you are aware of illegal vapes being sold, please report it:

Report the sale of illegal vapes/e-cigarettes

How to easily spot illegal vapes and vape products

  1. Check the number of puffs printed on the vape/label
    • the maximum tank size is 2ml. This is equivalent to 600-650 puffs for disposables. Products advertising significantly more usage than this are illegal
  2. Check the health warnings
    • in the UK the warning must cover 30% of the front and back of the pack
    • the health warning must read "This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance". Use of the word 'chemical' is only used in the USA market. In the UK we use 'substance'.
  3. Check for nicotine content
    • the product must indicate the nicotine content and delivery per dose
    • the maximum e-liquid capacity is 2ml
    • the maximum nicotine strength is 20mg (2%)
  4. Check the manufacturers details
    • the vape packaging must contain the manufacturer or importer name and contact details
    • the manufacturer or importer must be registered on the MHRA website

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