A popular brand of disposable e-cigarettes has been taken off supermarket shelves after they were found to contain more than the legal limit of nicotine.
In an investigation by the Daily Mail, multiple £5.99 vapes, bought at a Tesco store in Derbyshire, were sent for testing at an independent laboratory. The lab found that the tested Elf Bar 600 contained at least 50 per cent more nicotine than the UK’s legal limit. Following the release of the investigation, supermarket chains Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all removed the products from their shelves.
Elf Bars are manufactured in Shenzhen, China. A spokesperson for the company apologised for ‘inadvertently’ breaking the law in a statement given to the Daily Mail.
“We found out that some batches of the Elf Bar product have been overfilled in the UK,” they said.
“It appears that e-liquid tank sizes which are standard in other markets have been inadvertently fitted to some of our UK products,” the spokesperson said.
“We wholeheartedly apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.”
Disposable vaporisers have risen in popularity with younger generations in recent years, thanks in part to their prominence on the Chinese social media platform TikTok. While studies have shown that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco, many chronic users have reported significant negative health effects from using Elf Bars, such as bleeding gums, nosebleeds, and tooth decay.
Elf Bars and similar disposable vapes usually contain 2% nicotine salt, the equivalent of 20 milligrams of nicotine, which is the same amount of nicotine as smoking 45-50 cigarettes. Due to the bright-coloured packaging and sweet flavourings such as bubble gum and ice cream, health experts have expressed concern that the products are being designed to be attractive to children and young adults. 16-year-old Ewan Fisher was left with ‘ the lungs of an 80-year-old’ after spending 10 weeks in hospital as a result of consuming e-cigarettes.
“As vaping becomes more popular, we are beginning to see more cases,” Dr Hemant Kulkarni, a consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, told the BBC.
“Some of the cases my colleagues and I have seen are teenagers presenting with severe lung injury and some of these have been life-threatening.”