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Several of the most popular disposable vape devices on the UK market are falling short on compliance, a retailer’s ranking shared exclusively with The Grocer can reveal. 

The anonymous retailer analysed 13 of the most searched for disposable vapes on Google in the UK, scoring each against 19 items of compliance and best practice. 

The investigation – which was completed in February – found just two of the disposable vapes scrutinised were “fully compliant with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and committed to consumer safety” according to the retailer. 

Some were found not to have an ‘advisory statement’ on the product or packaging – such as ‘Keep out of reach of children’ – a TRPR requirement for all products containing nicotine.

Several of the points of compliance tested were not mandatory for vape products sold in the UK, but are highly recommended by compliance experts. Among them the Unique Formula Identifier (UFI) – required for disposables sold in the EU – which are used by poison centres in the event of an emergency call.

Less than half of the disposable devices ranked by the retailer were found to display a UFI code.

One vape was found not to be shown on the MHRA’s portal at the time of the analysis – a requirement for all vapes sold in the UK. It has since been added to the portal.

Two disposable devices – Hyppe Maxx and Yolo Bar – met every point of compliance and best practice measured. 

Paul Wilkinson, director of Hyppe UK, said compliance was a “top priority” of the company despite being “at times the unseen part of our work”. 

“When it comes to ensuring the packaging and products are compliant, some brands do not feel they need to spend any time on this,” Wilkinson said. “And if they are not focused on this then how do we know they have spent time, energy and funds on product safety, quality control, supply chain controls, chemical inspections, and analysis?” 

“Cutting corners for the quick cash seems to be the driving forces behind some products,” he added. 

Jane Buxton of Vape Yolo said: “We understand that consumer confidence is paramount to helping people quit smoking, which is why we strive to remain the number one disposable brand not only in terms of flavour quality, but also compliance.” 

Late last year, an investigation by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) found “mounting evidence” of illicit and inappropriately branded disposable vape products hitting the UK market. As well as over-strength products, the association found several that failed to include warnings about nicotine content, a legal requirement. 

The MHRA and Trading Standards are increasing their enforcement around non-compliant vape products and sales, the latter joining the UKVIA on several retailer and distributor raids in recent months. 

“The UK has in the MHRA, the most proactive of compliance authorities in Europe, so there really is no way out for the rogue brands any more,” said Lee Bryan, MD of Arcus Compliance. 

“The cost of getting a compliant product on the market, will always be cheaper than getting a non-compliant one off the market and now we are seeing more enforcement, I don’t think [vape brands] have the choice,” he added. 

The UKVIA in May called for “no holds barred enforcement” and a minimum fine of £10,000 for retailers caught selling to under 18-year-olds or trading vapes not listed by the MHRA.