In a major crackdown in Leeds, 16,000 illegal vapes were seized, valued at £160,000, due to concerns about their availability to children. These illicit devices can contain dangerous levels of nicotine and pose serious health risks, prompting vigorous enforcement by West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards, with potential fines and prison time for offenders. To report illegal vapes, call Citizens Advice at 0808 223 1133.
What are the dangers of illegal vapes and the crackdown efforts in Leeds?
Illegal vapes can contain dangerous levels of nicotine, posing serious health risks, especially to youth. In Leeds, a crackdown led to 16,000 illicit devices seized, valued at £160,000. Vigorous enforcement by West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards is ongoing, with fines and potential prison time for offenders. To report illegal vapes, call Citizens Advice at 0808 223 1133.
The Scale of Illegal Vape Sales in Leeds
In a significant city crackdown, almost 16,000 illegal vaping devices were seized from just two retailers in Leeds. This operation, involving the West Yorkshire Police, Trading Standards, and Leeds City Council, targeted the illicit sale of vapes. Specifically, the concern was their availability to children. The confiscated goods held a retail value of approximately £160,000, which represented a substantial part of the retailers’ inventory.
Enquiries are ongoing to address potential offences identified during this operation. It is the result of public reports regarding the sale of illicit and oversized vapes. The crackdown was preceded by advisory visits and cautions from Trading Standards. To put the figures in perspective, these seizures made up about 75% of the retailers’ stock, emphasizing the depth of illegal vape trading within the region.
In 2022, over 30,000 vapes were confiscated across West Yorkshire. This number underlines the scale of the issue, highlighting the need for continued and rigorous enforcement. Teams from Trading Standards and the Police worked together in the seizure, showcasing effective inter-agency cooperation.
Health Risks and Legal Implications
David Strover of West Yorkshire Trading Standards stated, “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.” Illicit vapes not only undermine lawful retailers, but also pose significant health risks, especially to the youth.
Many of these vapes contain excessive amounts of nicotine, which is against the legal regulations. The ongoing presence of these products in the market is a public health concern and suggests some retailers are indifferent to the wellbeing of their customers and the community at large. Strover added, “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.”
To help identify illegal vapes, the public should be aware that any vape offering over 2 ml of liquid or about 600 puffs is against the law. Reports of such items, as well as sales to individuals under 18, can be made anonymously via the Citizens Advice phone line at 0808 223 1133.
Enforcement and Public Safety
Sergeant Lee MacDonald of the Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team expressed strong support for the Trading Standards’ efforts in mitigating the dangers posed by illicit vapes. “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,” said MacDonald.
The operation aims to protect the community, particularly children and youth, from the risks associated with these products. The significant quantity of vapes confiscated during this operation demonstrates the potential for harm reduction when illegal products are removed from the marketplace.
Councillor Salma Arif, an executive member of Leeds City Council, reiterated the potential benefits of vaping for smokers attempting to quit, while also acknowledging the dangers of unregulated products. “Vaping is an important tool to help people stop smoking, but illicit vapes can contain dangerous levels of nicotine and other chemicals,” Arif commented. She also emphasized the council’s stance on vaping by minors: “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.”
The concerted efforts of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards and West Yorkshire Police have been commended by the council for their role in addressing this critical public health issue.
Report Illegal Vapes – Citizens Advice phone line for anonymous reporting of illegal vapes and underage sales.
- 16,000 illegal vapes were seized in Leeds, valued at £160,000, due to concerns about their availability to children.
- Illegal vapes can contain dangerous levels of nicotine and pose serious health risks.
- Vigorous enforcement by West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards is ongoing, with fines and potential prison time for offenders.
- Over 30,000 vapes were confiscated across West Yorkshire in 2022, highlighting the scale of the issue.
- To report illegal vapes, call Citizens Advice at 0808 223 1133.