Disposable Vape Regulations: Separating Facts From Fiction

Disposable Vape Regulations: Separating Facts From Fiction

Published by James Dunworth

Confusion over disposable vape devices has caused major problems in the UK. Incorrect advice has been given out, and perfectly legal vape devices have been seized.

It’s imperative, of course, that regulations are enforced, but incorrect enforcement only sows confusion and undermines existing regulations.

In particular, I have seen two main areas of confusion:

Maximum puff limit

The first is the ‘puff limit’ of different devices. Some people, including people at some trading standards organisations, believe the legal limit is 600 puffs. In fact, the claim was even made on a BBC documentary. That’s led to claims that devices that state larger puff limit are illegal.

The legal limit is not set according to puffs. That makes a lot of sense, because in reality the number of puffs will vary hugely per user on any given device. Imagine, for example, that one person takes three second puffs and the another person takes six second puffs. The first person will get twice as many puffs as the second person.

So the legal limit has nothing to do with the amount of puffs, it’s all to do with how much liquid is in the device. The maximum allowed is 2ml. However, if a device boasts a ridiculous number of puffs (for example, three thousand), this is an indication the amount of e-liquid contained is likely more than 2ml. As I’ve argued in The Grocer, having more than 2ml matters, because it means the product is illegal, and is unlikely to have gone through the same product stewardship as a legal product.

Delivery dose per puff

A second problem has occurred when people think that disposable vape devices need to deliver a certain amount of nicotine per puff, and that nicotine dosage needs to be written on the package. For much the same reason as before, that’s impossible to achieve. This is a consumable product, not a pharmaceutical product, and the amount of nicotine delivered depends on how the device is used.

Where can you get good guidance?

The best current advice is provided by Kent Trading Standards’ Assured Guidance, which has been produced in collaboration with the IBVTA ( Independent British Vape Trade Association). If you’re a vendor, it’s also well worth joining the IBVTA, which produces a host of support and guidance for members, including support on dealing with mis-enforcement. (Disclosure - I am on the steering committee of the IBVTA).

For those in a hurry, this quick checklist can help you identify if a product is legal or not:

  • the maximum nicotine allowed is 20mg (2%) per disposable device
  • the maximum e-liquid allowed in a disposable vape device is 2ml
  • the device must have been submitted to the MHRA
  • an expiry date must be displayed on the device
  • the packaging must display a valid ECID number and nicotine warnings.

In addition, we advise buying from a reputable brand that uses US, UK or EU e-liquid.

If you are looking for a legal disposable vape device, check out our guide to choosing a disposable vape. Disposables are expensive, though, and while they’re a great introduction to vaping, we’d always recommend switching to a reusable vape device.