What is a legal e-cigarette in the UK and why it’s important?

Vaping and e-cigarettes have been available in the UK for more than ten years. Many e-cigs are still similar in appearance to earlier versions but have evolved in looks and styles, enhancing and personalising the vaping experience.  Along with this, regulatory changes in quality, safety and performance have altered how they are marketed and sold to consumers.

Product Restrictions:

In 2017 the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations (TRPR) came into law in the UK.  This changed some of the rules around vaping products and policies. Below is a brief outline, and for a broader and more detailed guide, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/e-cigarettes-regulations-for-consumer-products#overview

•    The maximum volume of nicotine-containing e-liquid to be restricted to 10ml per container/bottle.

•    Restrictions on e-cigarette tanks: capacities of no more than 2ml.

•    Requirements on nicotine-containing products and all packaging to be child-resistant and tamper-evident.

•    A ban on certain ingredients, including but not limited to colourings, caffeine and taurine.

•    Include updated labelling requirements and warnings on packaging.

•    E-liquids to be restricted to nicotine strength of no more than 20mg per ml (2%)

•    Requirements on all e-cigarettes and e-liquids to be notified to the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) before they are sold to consumers.

While some vapes are illegal due to their capacity like the Elux Legend 3500 puff (Nicotine vape), other vapes are banned for containing harmful and illegal chemicals.

What are Illegal Disposable Vapes?

Illegal disposable vapes are single-use e-cigarettes that are often sold without proper labelling or certification. Typically cheaper than their legal counterparts, they are often sold in convenience stores or online without age verification. These vapes can contain a variety of dangerous substances, including heavy metals and toxic chemicals, that can cause serious health problems. Additionally, some disposable vapes are illegal due to their extremely high nicotine levels.

Having said that one in three disposable vapes sold in the UK are fake and recently some nicotine-free Elux Legend 3500 Bars have been found to contain nicotine.

Illegal vapes with as much nicotine as 100 cigarettes sold to girl, 13, in Manchester, investigation revealed.

Up to one in four vaping shops are selling super-sized vapes with illegal amounts of nicotine to kids, an investigation has found.

A 13-year-old girl was able to purchase handfuls of illegal vapes containing as much nicotine as 100 cigarettes in the space of just one day.



There is also concern about the rise of illegal sized black market vapes, with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute warning that around one in three vape products on shelves break UK laws.

The illegal vapes our undercover child bought contained five times as much nicotine as the legal ones for just twice the price.

Organised crime gangs are believed to be smuggling £500million worth of illegal vapes into the UK a year. They are mostly made in China and designed for markets where bigger and stronger vapes are legal, such as the US.

Health Risks and Consequences

The use of illegal disposable vapes can have serious health consequences, particularly for young people. The high levels of nicotine found in many of these vapes is addictive. and long-term mis-use can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and lung cancer. Additionally, the presence of heavy metals and toxic chemicals in these vapes can cause respiratory problems and other serious health issues.


The use of illegal devices has also been linked to a number of serious lung injuries and deaths in the UK and around the world. This has prompted public health officials to warn against the use of these vapes and to encourage people to seek out safer alternatives.

High lead and nickel found in illegal vapes

Vapes confiscated from school pupils contain high levels of lead, nickel and chromium, BBC News found.

Used vapes gathered at Baxter College in Kidderminster were tested in a laboratory.

The results showed children using them could be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead, and nine times the safe amount of nickel.

Some vapes also contained harmful chemicals like those in cigarette smoke.

High levels of lead exposure in children can affect the central nervous system and brain development,

Lab co-founder David Lawson said: “In 15 years of testing, I have never seen lead in a device.

“None of these should be on the market – they break all the rules on permitted levels of metal.

“They are the worst set of results I’ve ever seen.”

In “highlighter vapes” – designed with bright colours to look like highlighter pens – the amounts of the metals found were:

  • lead – 12 micrograms per gram, 2.4 times the stipulated safe exposure level
  • nickel – 9.6 times safe levels
  • chromium – 6.6 times safe levels
  • The metals were thought to come from the heating element – but the tests showed they were in the e-liquid itself.


Unfortunately, illicit or unregulated products will always be a problem, not just in the vaping industry. Despite the fact that Trading Standards is doing an excellent job of seizing illegal stock from sellers, it is a never-ending battle.

We understand that regulations are a barrier for many vapers, and perhaps higher nicotine levels and larger tank/pod capacities would be more effective in assisting smokers in quitting. However, while these laws are in effect, Squire Vape co will always abide by the rules and ensure that the products we sell are safe for the consumer giving you peace of mind.

Illegal vapes urgent warning issued to all parents with children aged 12 and 13

Trading Standard officials are concerned that illegal and potentially dangerous vapes are ending up in the hands of 12 and 13-year-olds. Parents have been issued a warning that their children could be in danger after a large quantity of illegal e-cigarettes were seized.

In response to the raid in Gloucestershire, the Government said it was considering measures to protect children from vaping.

While the electronic cigarettes are far less dangerous than smoking, illegal vapes are untested and could contain dangerous chemicals which should not be inhaled.


Illegal vape products worth thousands of pounds have been seized during an operation across Nottingham. Trading Standards officers in the city bagged up hundreds of vaping products – some of which contain five times the legal amount of nicotine and e-liquid.

The branded vape bars collected have a street value close to £8,000. The operation involved eight separate premises across the city, although they have not been named.

The average vape product carried up to 1,500 uses – the equivalent of smoking more than 50 cigarettes. One particular brand of the disposable, single-use vapes seized was equal to more than 100 cigarettes.


Trading standards detect rise in counterfeit vapes at Channel ports

The number of potentially unsafe disposable vapes being seized at the Channel ports has risen “dramatically”, according to trading standards.

More than 300,000 of the counterfeit products had been seized during December, Kent Trading Standards said.

James Whiddett said: “A lot of our work has been focused on retail outlets but this is now higher up the supply chain.”

Mr Whiddett said: “We’re stopping these devices which may have about 10 times the legal limit of nicotine in them.”

He said the current legal limit on the tank on disposable vapes is 2ml, which is the equivalent of 600 puffs.


“The products which we’re seeing coming into the country at the moment have 3,500 puffs on them and some have 7,000 puffs, so they are illegal and cannot be supplied to anyone,” he said.


 Is Made in China vapes safe?

Ninety percent of the world’s e-cigarettes are made in China. Experts warn, however, that poorly manufactured devices can vaporize heavy metals and carcinogens alongside the nicotine.

Don’t fall foul of a fake vape

A growing concern surrounding disposable vapes is the rapid increase of counterfeit and non-compliant items being sold across the country, including to children.

In the UK, to be compliant, a disposable vape containing nicotine can have up to 600 ‘puffs’. This means that the volume of e-liquid inside can’t be more than 2ml and it can’t have more than 20mg of nicotine per ml of e-liquid.

However, Trading Standards are finding increasing numbers of nicotine-containing vapes being sold with much higher numbers of ‘puffs’.


China’s E-Cigarette Boom Lacks Oversight for Safety

Experts say flawed or sloppy manufacturing could account for some of the heavy metals, carcinogens and other dangerous compounds, such as lead, tin and zinc that have been detected in some e-cigarettes.

One study found e-cigarette vapour that contained hazardous nickel and chromium at four times the level they appear in traditional cigarette smoke; another found that half the e-cigarettes sampled malfunctioned and some released vapour tainted with silicon fibre.


Public Health England, along with the Royal College of Physicians, estimate that the damage from e-cigarettes will not exceed 5% of the damage done from smoking traditional cigarettes, suggesting that vaping is 95% safer than smoking tobacco products.

This means that despite the presence of certain harmful chemicals, the volumes of these chemicals in electronic cigarette are generally in much lower concentrations than those found in tobacco cigarettes.

Being careful where you buy your e-cigarette / disposable vapes and buy from the safest e liquid brand, and using a less powerful device, are the best ways to minimise the harmful chemicals produced by e-cigarettes!

The conclusion is some e-cigs are banned solely because of their capacity and other are deemed unsafe or untested and could do more damage than smoking tobacco.

My advice is not to buy from convenience stores but stick to reliable vape suppliers.