Dangers of illegal vapes.
DPCC Youth Vaping

In the ongoing battle against illegal and counterfeit goods, community intelligence is emerging as a powerful weapon that is helping to make our communities safer, stronger and more resilient to crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour. 

Last month I was invited to accompany police teams and trading standards officers on a series of targeted raids, to see for myself, the action being taken to crack down on the sale of harmful products such as vapes and tobacco. 

Working together the North-East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), Trading Standards, Durham Constabulary, Immigration Enforcement, and HMRC officers took 1,196 suspected illegal vapes worth approximately £15,300 and a significant amount of illegal and dangerous vapes and tobacco off the streets. 

These raids were informed by local intelligence and concerns that young people were being exposed to unsafe, high dose and unregulated products. Nationally it’s been reported children as young as 11 were becoming addicted to cheap nicotine products. 

The criminal fraternity’s deliberate targeting of underage children is really concerning. Schools and public health agencies have a pivotal role to play in educating students about the dangers of vaping and the risks associated with using illegal and counterfeit products. Working together schools, parents, and local authorities can help create a safe environment where children are aware of the risks and empowered to make informed decisions. 

These concerns were backed up when a local reporter was able to purchase an illegal supersize vape and two “red-flag” e-cigs that contained a nicotine replacement that Trading Standards had never heard of. Illegal vapes and adulterated products pose significant health risks. They can potentially contain harmful substances such as cannabis, synthetic opioids, and other dangerous chemicals like lead arsenic, lead and formaldehyde. Ingesting or inhaling these substances can lead to severe health consequences, including respiratory issues, organ damage, and even death. 

Two of our local MPs have recently put aside their political differences and jointly called for immediate action on illegal and untraceable vapes. Shortly after, the government announced their plans to outlaw disposable vapes. Under these new powers, vape flavours will be restricted and there will be a requirement for plain packaging. Similar to tobacco advertising, there will be restrictions on how vapes or e-cigarettes are displayed to make them less attractive to children. 

To avoid falling foul of fake or non-compliant vape, consumers should purchase them from reputable stores and check that the device is compliant and has the CE, UKCA mark or both. If the packaging contains spelling errors, it could be a fake. 

If you suspect the use or distribution of illegal vapes, please report it to the appropriate local authorities (see links below) or via Crimestoppers and give information 100% anonymously 0800 555 111 or Crimestoppers-uk.org

We will continue to leverage community intelligence and use this valuable data to gain insights into the intricate workings of these networks, enabling them to be dismantled methodically and systematically. This disruption not only curtails the availability of harmful products but also weakens the overall infrastructure supporting illegal activities. 

It is crucial our communities remain vigilant and continue reporting suspicious activities and inappropriate sales, to ensure the safety and well-being of our young people. By working together, we can protect our children from the dangers of illicit vaping and create a healthier future for all. 

Provided by the Durham Police and Crime Commissioners Office

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