The dangers of black market vaping products


With vaping becoming increasingly popular in the past few years, there are now more people trying to capitalise on the “vape boom” than ever before, some of whom don’t have the safety and best interests of end-users in mind.

Now more than ever, it’s important for vapers to be very careful about the products they buy and where they purchase their vape devices, accessories and e-liquids from.

Particularly in the US, where there are differing restrictions between states and regions, not just on the production and sale of nicotine-containing substances, e-liquids and vape devices, but also the production and sale of CBD, THC and marijuana-containing substances, it can be difficult to know which vape products are safe to use and which you should steer clear from.

Buying your vape mods and e-liquids from legitimate retailers and wholesalers is the most effective way to ensure you are vaping safely. You should never buy from an independent retailer you don’t believe to be fully licensed to sell vape products or on online marketplaces like eBay, Gumtree or Craigslist.

How black-market vape products can hurt you

There have been several instances in recent years where black market vape products, primarily e-liquids, have been the cause of serious illness or injury for some vapers.

One of the biggest and most widely publicised incidents where black market vape juice caused severe damage to some vapers was in 2019, where over 500 people in the USA reported a vaping-related lung illness known as  EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury).

Eight people also died from the mystery illness. After intensive federal and state investigations it was found that the outbreak was likely due to a line of contaminated vape cartridges which contained contaminated THC (the psychoactive compound that is found in marijuana). This liquid had been sold at marijuana dispensaries that may not have been fully licensed to sell these products, and it’s clear to see why.

A compound called Vitamin E Acetate was found in lung fluid from 29 different patients during the outbreak which is now widely believed to have been the culprit, as it was also found in the e-liquid of those who were unwell. However, Vitamin E Acetate is only added to THC containing e-liquids, and very rarely by legitimate manufacturers. The substance is now banned in e-cigarettes in the US, so if you’re purchasing from a legitimate company, the chances of inhaling Vitamin E Acetate is incredibly low.

In the UK, THC is not permitted for sale and the EU has extensive and strict regulations on the sale and distribution of cannabis-containing substances, which makes it very difficult for this kind of contaminated e-liquids to reach verifiable and reputable retailers. CBD is permitted in some regions, but remains tightly regulated on top of the regular restrictions on the sale of e-liquids and nicotine-containing substances. It’s also important to mention that none of the cases in the 2019 outbreak were linked to nicotine-only e-cigarettes and the vast majority occurred in states where recreational marijuana is banned.

Is vaping dangerous?

When you vape with hardware and e-liquids from reputable and regulated sellers, vaping is much safer than smoking cigarettes. There is a concern that fear-mongering about vaping which originates from incidents caused by black market vaping will stop smokers from making the transition to vaping.

It’s important to note that vaping has been proven to be much safer than continuing to smoke, and is a more effective method to quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies like gums, lozenges, sprays and patches. The guidance of Public Health England and the NHS is that if you smoke, you should try to quit straight away, and that if you need to vape in order to become smokefree, then you should. While the long-term effects of vaping are not fully known, vaping is estimated to be 95% safer than smoking overall, making it the obvious choice for smokers.

You should always make sure you are buying your vape pen, vape mods or e-liquids from a reputable seller and that their products have all the relevant certifications from regulatory bodies like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US, EMA (European Medicines Agency) in Europe and the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in the UK.

How to make sure you’re buying credible vape cartridges

There are several brands that you should be aware of when looking to avoid illegitimate vape products. A brand called Dank Vapes has been found to be at the centre of one lung disease outbreak in the US, particularly when it comes to young people who have purchased from unlicensed sellers such as friends and family, unregulated pop-up shops and other unlicensed retailers.

It is believed that this brand is sold exclusively on the black market and by illicit retailers, without being subject to the stricter regulations that legitimate producers and sellers are. The packaging for many black-market vaping products look to be of a high-quality and seem to be legitimate on initial inspection, so the only way to be sure is to buy directly from reputable sellers who are fully licenced to sell vape products in your region.

You should never buy your vape products from online marketplaces like eBay, or from friends or family members who are not licensed distributors. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s guidance about where their product comes from, and where they are based. Do they have good reviews, both on their own site and on other review platforms?

Are their products highly rated, and do the reviews look to be legitimate? You should also make sure that you can easily contact the customer services department at your retailer just in case something doesn’t quite feel right, or simply if you’re not happy with your product!

The chances are that if you find an e-liquid deal that is too good to be true, it probably is. While some e-liquids can be manufactured very cheaply through legitimate means and techniques