The scale of Scotland’s illicit vape trade

Report finds nearly 16,000 illegal vapes were seized in Scotland last year

A youth holds their phone in one hand and a vaping device in their other hand with two young people blurred out in the background sitting on a bench with a plastic bottle between them.
The Vape Club has laid out the shocking scale of Scotland’s illicit vape trade in a detailed report.

VAPING retailer Vape Club has revealed that nearly 16,000 illicit vapes were seized in council areas across Scotland in its 2024 Illegal Vaping Report.

24 of Scotland’s council areas declared the number of illegal vapes seized across the country, totalling 15,995 illicit vapes found in the country for 2023.

According to the report, Edinburgh was at the top of this list with 4,689 illegal vapes seized followed by Glasgow at 2,789; East Ayrshire at 2,369; Fife at 1,945; and Midlothian at 1,789.

Whilst these numbers for Scotland alone are staggering, it seems to be a drop in the ocean when compared to the rest of the UK with the total number of illicit vapes seized coming in at 1.57million vapes for 2023. This number is 19 times higher than what it was in 2020, according to the Vape Club.

The report highlighted that areas with major import hubs nearby have been hotspots for activity in the illegal vape trade with areas like Kent – with the Port of Dover – uncovering an eye-watering 281,133 illicit devices.

Adding to this problem as well, the Vape Club has reported that little has been done to offset this trade as only 5% of sellers found with illegal devices received fines or penalties.

Dan Marchant, director of Vape Club, said: “Currently, the maximum fine that can be handed out is £2,500 but in reality, the fines given out are much, much lower.

“We completely welcome the move to allow trading standards to issue on-the-spot fines, but we would like to see those fines increased to at least £10,000 and increase the fine for repeat offenders.

“The best deterrent for any crime is the likelihood of being caught and right now that is incredibly low, and rogue retailers are taking full advantage of this.

“We have to create an environment where there is much more chance of being caught.”