An expert in the e-cigarette industry believes that a legal loophole affecting the production of short fills could affect people’s safety.
Mark Fawcett, who manages GoSmokeFree.co.uk, has warned the public of a legal loophole that allows unscrupulous manufacturers to produce short fill e-liquids without being subject to existing regulations on e-liquid products.
Currently, tobacco products in the UK, including e-liquids that contain nicotine, are regulated via the Tobacco Products Directive 2016 (TPD) and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR).
However, short fill e-liquids (also known as “short fills” or “shake and vape”) do not contain any nicotine, and are as such not covered by the regulations.
Short fills are designed for use with additional nicotine shots. They do not contain any nicotine, but are commonly used with an additional 20mg nicotine shot, allowing consumers to add their own nicotine content before consumption.
Because they’re not covered by regulations, these products can be manufactured without the consumer protection provided by existing regulations. Mr Fawcett believes that this might lead to harm to consumers due to the actions of unscrupulous, often unsafe manufacturers.
“The government put legislation in place to make sure everyone could be held accountable but now with these short fill bottles, this legislation has been sidestepped. MHRA is not regulating these products and that’s a big mistake.”
Due to the lack of regulations covering short fills, Fawcett has concerns that “no one is policing the products vapers are using on a day to day basis.”
Short fill e-liquids have a relatively simple formula, allowing amateur manufacturers to produce their own products with limited costs. However, Mr Fawcett states that there’s a big difference between a professional e-liquid manufacturer and an unscrupulous one.
““Professional e-liquid manufacturers spend thousands of pounds on e-liquid testing to make sure their products are safe for consumer use and don’t contain any nasties, such as diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione and acetoin.”
These substances, which are linked to long term illnesses, such as bronchiolitis obliterans, aka. “popcorn lung”, can be found in some poor quality e-liquid products, often originating outside of the UK.
“People buying the liquids have no idea what has gone into their liquid or if it was manufactured in a clean environment. Potentially, someone could make a deliberately bad batch, sell it locally and never have to deal with the consequences – that can’t be right.”
“People can get cheap flavourings from anywhere, including from outside the UK in China and other Asian countries. We have heard of and seen e-liquids made in Malaysia that contained a spider.”
To avoid purchasing unsafe short fill e-liquid, Mr Fawcett recommends that consumers check the labeling of the products they purchase.
“Often homemade short fills will have on the packaging, ‘manufactured for’ followed by the name of a large wholesaler, rather than ‘manufactured by’, which provides accountability.”
He also recommends paying attention to the manufacturers. Before buying short fills or other e-liquid products, consumers should check that the company they shop with is registered with the MHRA.
While this doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of receiving e-liquid that’s manufactured in an inappropriate or non-compliant facility, it can help consumers avoid many of the major dangers of short fill e-liquid use.