Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
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Best-selling vape stripped from UK shelves over illegal nicotine levels

Chinese company Elf Bar, which produces Britain’s best-selling vape that is used illegally by tens of thousands of children, has admitting to breaking the law in far exceeding maximum nicotine levels in its products, and has “wholeheartedly apologised”.

Independent lab tests by the Daily Mail found its ‘600’ line of e-cigarettes was at least 50% over the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid, findings which experts described as “deeply disturbing”.

After the results of the investigation, leading supermarket chain Tesco removed some Elf Bar 600s from its stores while another chain, Morrisons, also launched a probe into the product.

The brand, which only launched in 2021, sells 2.5m Elf Bars 600s in the UK every week, accounting for two in three of all disposable vapes. The devices cost £5.99 each.

With bright packaging and sweet flavours, including cola and cotton candy ice, the devices have become popular with children.

More than half of the 11 to 17-year-olds who admitted trying vaping said they used an Elf Bar, around 100 000 young people, anti-smoking group Ash found last year.

The amount of nicotine liquid in a vape is legally limited in the UK to 2ml, of which the maximum nicotine strength should be 2%.

Trading Standards warned this strict 2ml limit must not be exceeded without exception.

The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 says the limit was brought in to create “an environment that protects children from starting to use these products”.

But tests commissioned by the Mail on three flavours of the China-made Elf Bar 600s, bought at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons branches, found they contained between 3ml and 3.2ml of nicotine levels.

Two other major vape brands tested at the same time were found to have legal levels.

Mark Oates, director of consumer advocacy group We Vape, said: “The findings on Elf Bars are deeply worrying and it is clear there have been failings on multiple levels.

“Not only are the levels of e-liquid too high but checks to make sure these guidelines are adhered to either haven’t occurred or are insufficient. Anyone supplying vapes in the UK market should be following the legislation.

“We expect the matter to be fully investigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).”

Elf Bar initially cast doubt on the Mail’s test process and suggested the products may have been fakes.

But a spokesman later confirmed: “We found out that some batches of the Elf Bar product have been overfilled in the UK.

“It appears that e-liquid tank sizes, which are standard in other markets (like the US), have been inadvertently fitted to some of our UK products. We wholeheartedly apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.”

Public Health England supports vaping as the most effective way to quit smoking and says it is 95% safer than cigarettes. It is illegal for under-18s to buy vapes, but 7% of 11-17-year-olds now do so regularly, up from 4% in 2020.

The number of children who have tried vaping at least once has increased from 14% to 16%, reports Daily Mail.

 

Daily Mail article – UK's top-selling vape is stripped from shelves over illegal level of nicotine: Company admits 'inadvertently' breaking the law after it emerges products exceed limit (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

E-cigarettes: What we know and what we don’t – Cancer Research UK

 

WHO versus Public Health England over e-cigarettes

 

UK £1bn vaping industry ‘targets children’ with cartoons and kiddy flavours

 

Denmark, Britain, Malaysia may follow New Zealand in youth smoking ban

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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