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More than four million illegal vapes seized at UK border

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

The number of illegally imported vapes seized at the UK border quadrupled in the last year, new data has revealed.

New figures, released to the BBC in response to a Freedom of Information request, show more than 4.5 million vapes were seized by the UK Border Force between January and October last year.

Just 4,430 vapes were seized in 2021, rising to 988,064 in 2022, and soaring to 4,537,689 in 2023.

A Home Office spokesman told the BBC the Government would “not tolerate the sale of illegal products and… harmful goods, such as illegal or counterfeit vapes”.

They added: “Border Force work closely with law enforcement partners to share intelligence and have a strong track record in targeting illicit commodities.”

The latest figures come one month after the Government said it would bring forward its plans to restrict the sale of vapes to children “as soon as possible” in the new year.

Health minister Andrea Leadsom told the Commons in December the Tobacco and Vapes Bill could begin its passage into law very soon.

The Bill aims to restrict flavours and descriptions of e-cigarettes so they are not specifically targeted at children.

MPs campaigning for the change have previously described how flavours of vapes are named to resemble sweets.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Leadsom said: “We all know it is an offence to sell vapes to children under 18, yet one in five children has tried a vape in 2023 alone. The numbers trying it have tripled in the last three years.

“We know the industry is targeting children quite cynically. It is unacceptable, so our Tobacco and Vapes Bill will restrict the appeal and availability of vapes to children.”

Other planned restrictions include the sale of disposable vapes and regulating where vapes can be sold.

Among the Government’s other moves to clamp down on tobacco use are its proposals to create a “smoke-free generation”.

This would see the legal age of sale for tobacco products raised each year to prevent younger generations from taking up smoking.