The use of disposable vape devices has become increasingly popular in recent years as a means of quitting smoking or as an alternative to cigarettes. Even though Public Health England considers vaping 95% safer than cigarettes, disposable vape devices are rightly subject to a range of legal requirements that must be followed by manufacturers, importers, and retailers.
What Are The Legal Requirements For Disposable Vapes in the UK?
What Rules Do Disposable Vapes Have to Follow?
Disposable vapes are unique in that they are a device that is prefilled with nicotine-containing e-liquid, which makes them subject to rules for both e-liquids and devices. If you’re a retailer looking to sell vape devices, keep in mind the main points below to ensure you are selling legal products.
The main requirements for a disposable vape to be legal in the UK are:
- Disposable vape devices must not contain more than 2ml of e-liquid.
- Disposable devices can contain no more than 20mg (2%) nicotine content.
- Packaging must be properly labelled with nicotine warnings and information.
- The e-liquid must be free from certain toxic chemicals and additives.
- The device has been certified and approved for sale by the MHRA.
Any disposable vape devices that do not follow the above points are not considered safe for use in the UK. Retailers, distributors and importers must ensure that they do not make these products available for purchase in order to ensure the safety of their customers.
The full UK legal requirements for disposable devices, and other vape products for that matter, can be found in the 2016 Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR). These regulations set the standards for e-cigarettes and e-liquids and require that all products meet certain safety, quality, and labelling requirements. For any retailer or business involved in the sale of distribution of e-cigarettes, it is critical to understand these regulations.
What Disposable Vapes are Illegal?
Simply put, any disposable vape device that does not meet TRPR regulations is not fit for sale in the UK. Common examples of illegal vape kits include any device that contains more than 2ml of nicotine e-liquid. These include common 3500 puff devices that also contain 20mg nicotine. It is important to note however that disposable devices that contain 0mg nicotine can contain more than 2ml of e-liquid.
Other examples of illegal devices are disposable vapes that contain more than than the legal nicotine limit. For example, a disposable vape with 60mg (6%) of nicotine would not be legal to sell in the UK. Other regions have different regulations, so devices are made that contain higher amounts of nicotine. Retailers should make sure to never stock these devices, and it is the responsibility of distributors to ensure they supply their region with the appropriate devices.
Retailers must take responsibility for ensuring that the products they sell comply with the UK’s legal requirements. This includes ensuring that products have been tested and certified as safe, and that they are labelled and packaged correctly. If a retailer receives goods that do not meet these requirements, then they should contact their wholesaler immediately.
What Happens to Those Who Sell Illegal Disposable Vapes?
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK body responsible for enforcing the TRPR and other legal requirements for disposable vape devices. The MHRA has the power to take action against companies that fail to comply with the regulations, including fines, product recalls, and even criminal prosecution.
Sadly, these measures are not always enough, and irresponsible retailers and distributors are regularly caught improperly selling disposable vapes. According to a BBC report, thousands of illegal disposable vape devices are being seized everyday in the UK. In the North East of England alone, a shocking 1.4 tonnes of illegal e-cigarettes were seized in January 2023.
Make Certain Your Disposable Vapes are Legal
Everyone from importers and manufacturers to distributors and retailers have a responsibility to make sure that the vapes they sell are legal. It is also critical to ensure that their vapes are sold legally and not to minors. For anybody looking to sell disposable vapes, it's critical to be familiar with the UK’s laws and regulations so as not to face fines or even prosecution. As you’d imagine, ignorance is no excuse for selling unsafe products, so always be diligent and make sure your vapes are approved for sale in the UK.