Super-strength vapes aimed at children seized in West End raids after Standard probe

·2-min read
Vapes were among items seized in raids by trading standards  (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
Vapes were among items seized in raids by trading standards (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

Thousands of illegal super-strength vapes aimed at children have been seized in raids on Oxford Street following an Evening Standard investigation.

Trading Standards and Met Police officers swooped after we alerted them to the sale of Chinese-made Geek Bar Pros which have twice the legal limit of nicotine, the equivalent of smoking 125 cigarettes.

Westminster city council removed £58,000 worth of illicit e-cigarettes and counterfeit goods in sealed evidence bags from two businesses last Tuesday.

School pupils boast on social media of being drawn to the devices because of their neon colours and flavours such as icy cola, orange soda and lush ice.

Young users have reported coughing up blood and suffering nose bleeds, headaches, chest pains and dizzy spells.

During our probe, shops in the West End were caught openly selling Geek Bar Pros to teenagers without even asking for proof of age.

It is illegal to sell e-cigs to anyone under 18 — let alone devices with 5ml of nicotine, more than double the UK legal maximum level of 2ml.

Police during illegal vapes raid on Oxford Street (Westminster City Council)
Police during illegal vapes raid on Oxford Street (Westminster City Council)

At one popular store, our investigator — who is 19 but looks younger — was sold cool mint, guava ice and grape soda vapes containing five per cent nicotine and was never asked for ID. Staff there were seen encouraging two children to try products in a vaping section.

Further down Oxford Street, an employee at another shop accepted £6 from our investigator for a peach ice vape, but refused to give her a receipt as “it would be evidence for not IDing buyers”.

A Westminster spokesman said 4,000 individual items were impounded in the clean-up of Oxford Street last week.

This included 2,026 vaping devices that contained excessive levels of nicotine, 539 children’s toys with no safety labels, 336 unlabelled packets of banned Snus tobacco, 1,170 counterfeit mobile phone covers and 50 fake iPods.

Raj Mistry, executive director of environment and city management, thanked the Standard today, adding: “This raid revealed a shocking amount of illegal, counterfeit and potentially dangerous products.

“We are putting these questionable traders on notice that they will not be tolerated in our city. Westminster city council is committed to working with the police and other agencies to ensure that illegal or counterfeit goods are removed from the shelves.”

John Dunne, director-general of the Westminster-based UK Vaping Industry Association, assisted in the raids.

He said: “As a body we work closely with Trading Standards officers across the country to get rid of these rogue sellers, which give our industry as a whole a bad name.

“It is important to ensure adult consumers can purchase safe products while also keeping them out of the hands of young people.”

Last month, 4,500 illegal vapes and £100,000 of counterfeit goods were recovered at a tourist “souvenir” shop on Oxford Street.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting