Concerns Over E-cigarette Black Market Surge in Nottingham, UK

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Concerns Over E-cigarette Black Market Surge in Nottingham, UK
E-cigarette sellers in Nottingham worry about black market surge due to UK government's new tax system, potentially increasing 100-fold.

According to a report from Daily Advent on April 8th, e-cigarette businesses in Nottingham, UK are concerned that the new e-cigarette tax system announced by the British government may lead to a 100-fold increase in black market trade. In January of this year, the UK government confirmed a ban on disposable e-cigarettes, and in last month's budget announcement, they also announced taxes on e-cigarette products.


While most businesses in the area agree with the ban, they believe the new tax system will drive transactions underground. According to statistics, the Nottingham City Council's Trading Standards team seized over 7,500 illegal e-cigarettes in 2023, compared to just 1,786 in 2022.


According to an employee at a local e-cigarette store, 7 out of 10 customers inquire about illegal products. The store owner, Sifal Yakoubi, says that many people turn to the black market to obtain e-cigarettes.


This tax policy is certain to have an impact, and there will be issues if prices reach a certain level. There are already many people selling illegal disposable e-cigarettes under the counter. They are selling to anyone, including minors. This could be resolved by issuing licenses. The government wants people to quit smoking to ease the pressure on the NHS, but many people will revert to traditional cigarettes.


The shop owner added, "This will increase the black market by 100 times.


According to UK law, e-liquid and disposable e-cigarettes are not allowed to contain more than 20mg/ml (2%) nicotine. The e-cigarette e-liquid or pod capacity is limited to 2 milliliters, equivalent to 600 puffs.


According to Emma Boulton, the head of the Nottingham Trading Standards team, the main issue they are currently tackling is the oversized e-cigarette containers being sold in stores. "We have found that many e-cigarette products imported from the US and other parts of the world are being sold in the UK. People are becoming increasingly aware of what can be sold," she said. As of February 15, 2024, the department has carried out 2435 seizure operations, which were conducted in "various retail facilities." However, most complaints, sometimes including businesses selling smoking paraphernalia to children, are submitted through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.


Bolton explained, "People are calling to report individuals selling e-cigarettes to minors. Minor offenses will receive a warning letter, while serious offenders will undergo a warning meeting visit. The 'worst-case scenario' is a store owner being taken to court, but the trade team has not taken this step as of yet.


The UK government has announced a ban on disposable e-cigarettes in an effort to reduce the number of young people using e-cigarettes. Addressing concerns raised by e-cigarette shop owners about the possibility of driving sales underground, Bolton responded by saying he is not too concerned.


I believe people will only turn to rechargeable e-cigarettes, rather than disposable products, this does not mean they are completely unable to access these products.


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