Half a million pounds worth of illegal vapes seized in Whitebirk by Blackburn Council and Lancashire Police

A stash of illegal vapes worth nearly half a million pounds has been seized during an operation led by the council and police.
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Over 40,000 illegal vapes with a street value of £420,000 have been seized by Blackburn Council’s trading standards officers, supported by police.

The vapes, destined for the shop shelf, were found at a wholesaler in the Whitebirk area of Blackburn in November 2023. 

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Vapes are illegal if the tank capacity is more than 2ml and the nicotine volume more than 20mg. 

Industry standard for the number of puffs, though not a legal requirement, is about 600 puffs.

Councillor Jim Smith with the seized vapes.Councillor Jim Smith with the seized vapes.
Councillor Jim Smith with the seized vapes.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has confirmed that it will always explore all avenues to punish offenders, even using the Proceeds of Crime provisions to claw back money gained illegally.

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Councillor Jim Smith, Executive Member for Environment, said: “Selling illegal vapes is a serious offence, and offenders can face unlimited fines or up to two years in prison if they don’t comply. 

“It’s quite clear that this was a criminal operation and the sale of illegal vapes undermines retailers who are doing their best to comply with the law.

“It’s an unlevel playing field for these fair retailers when people are bringing stuff from all over the world that is illegal.”

In this case, the operation was intelligence led and supported by Lancashire Police and the council have said moving forward, they will keep carrying out these operations. 

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Members of the public are encouraged to report the sale of illegal vapes.

If you think a retailer is selling counterfeit goods or selling any vapes to those under 18, please report it. 

This can be done anonymously via the Citizens Advice phone line – 0808 223 1133 or via their website.