Warning of the dangers of illegal vapes as thousands seized in city crackdown: Vape pic 1

02 Feb 2024

Warning of the dangers of illegal vapes as thousands seized in city crackdown

Health Crime

Almost 16,000 illicit vapes have been seized from just two Leeds retailers during a joint operation involving the police, trading standards and the council to crack down on the illegal sale of vapes, particularly to children.

The huge haul holds a retail value of around £160,000 and made up a significant portion of both premises’ stock. Trading Standards are conducting enquiries into potential offences which have been identified during the operation.

The enforcement operation involved West Yorkshire Trading Standards, West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council. It was in response to reports from the public over the sale of illicit and oversized vapes at both premises and followed advisory visits and warnings from Trading Standards.

It took a team of five Trading Standards officers to identify and seize the vapes and five police officers to secure each premises. Around 75 per cent of the retailers’ stock was found to be illegal.

The huge number of vapes found in these two seizures demonstrates the scale of the illegal vape market across West Yorkshire. Last year alone over 30,000 vapes were seized across the region.

David Strover from West Yorkshire Trading Standards said:

“Selling illicit vapes, or any vapes illegally, is a very serious offence and the penalties reflect this with unlimited fines and potentially up to 2 years in prison. The illegal vaping market not only undermines other retailers who are operating and trading within the law, but it is also driving more young people to start experimenting with vapes and risk addiction.

“Many of these vapes are oversized and contain illegal quantities of nicotine. The open trading of illicit vapes is a great concern and demonstrates some retailers’ complete disregard for the health and safety of their customers and the local community.

“Identifying illicit vapes can be challenging but any vape over 2 ml - about 600 puffs - is illegal and should be reported. Sales to under 18s should also be reported. This can be done anonymously via the Citizens Advice phone line 0808 223 1133.”

Sergeant Lee MacDonald of Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:

“We fully support this important work by our trading standards colleagues to target the harm and risk caused by illicit vapes, particularly to children and young people.

“This successful operation has seen a huge haul of potentially harmful products taken out of circulation and it should send a clear deterrent message to other retailers trading in illegal vapes.”

Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council executive member for adult social care, public health and active lifestyles, said:

“Vaping is an important tool to help people stop smoking, but illicit vapes can contain dangerous levels of nicotine and other chemicals.

“Any vapes, illicit or not, are not for children and young people. Quite simply the message is: if you don’t smoke, don’t start to vape.”

“I am grateful and fully supportive for the hard work and support from West Yorkshire Trading Standards and West Yorkshire Police on this issue.”


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team