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£760,000 lost for Welsh local authorities through ’toothless’ illegal vaping enforcement

11 Mar 2024 3 minute read
A teen vaping

Welsh councils have lost out on £760,000 since the turn of the decade as trading standards lack powers to issue fines or fixed penalty notices for the possession and supply of illegal vapes.

New FOI data shows that over the last 12 months alone, Rhondda Cynon Taf council stood to gain £162,500, Denbighshire council £75,000, and Wrexham Council £52,500.

The findings have lead to industry experts calling for a stronger crackdown, with greater council enforcement powers and tighter restrictions.

Freedom of Information data from 152 local authorities across the UK were obtained and analysed by Vape Club for the 2024 Illegal Vaping Report.


In 2023, there were nearly 3,000 individual cases of businesses in possession of, stocking, or selling illegal vaping products.

With fines or fixed penalty notices only administered through lengthy court processes, just 1 in 20 resulted in fines.

In the last year, 55,454 illegal vapes were seized in Wales, enough for one to be sold every ten minutes.

This figure has more than tripled since the year before when 16,592 illegal vapes were seized.

The local authorities that seized the most illegal vapes since 2020 are, Swansea (24,889), Cardiff (11,189) and Newport (8,308).

Since the turn of the decade, Welsh local authorities have caught 302 unscrupulous sellers.

However, less than 1% of these sellers were issued fines during this time.

The Vape Retailer and Distributor Licensing framework has been launched to engage the government and local authorities in developing methods to stop the vaping black market.

Dan Marchant, Director of vape pod retailer Vape Club, said: “The unregulated illegal vape trade mirrors the issues once prevalent in the cigarette black market, including youth usage, potentially dangerous products, and unregulated retail sales.

“The best deterrent for any crime is the likelihood of being caught and right now that is incredibly low, and rogue retailers are taking full advantage of this. We have to create an environment where there is much more chance of being caught.

“Currently, the maximum fine that can be handed out is £2,500 but in reality, the fines given out are much, much lower. We completely welcome the move to allow trading standards to issue on-the-spot fines, but we would like to see those fines increased to at least £10,000 and increase the fine for repeat offenders.”


Chair of Trading Standards Wales, Judith Parry said: “Vaping was initially seen as a supporting mechanism to smoking cessation. Unfortunately, we have seen the market in illegal vapes take off, with it being the main area of concern for trading standards currently.

“Seizures of illegal products arriving in Wales from its ports and by other means runs into hundreds of thousands. Many of these products can contain illegal substances such as heavy metals, the ingestion of which can cause harm to an individual over a period of time.

“Trading standards services across Wales, working closely with partner agencies, will do whatever they can to ensure that the trade in illegal vapes is regulated as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

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4 months ago

Why? Nation of shopkeepers? Self interest?

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