A loophole in the regulations covering certain e-liquid products could mean that users of short fills are at risk, according to industry expert Mark Fawcett.
Fawcett, who is the manager of GoSmokeFree.co.uk, has stated that current regulations leave short fills — a popular type of zero-nicotine, flavoured e-liquid that’s used with an additional shot of nicotine — unprotected by laws such as the Tobacco Products Directive 2016.
Short fills are a type of e-liquid that does not contain any nicotine. They’re typically packaged in bottles of 60mL or larger and intentionally left underfilled, allowing end users to add a shot that contains up to 20mg of nicotine.
Since these products don’t contain nicotine, they aren’t covered under existing regulations. This means that unscrupulous, unethical manufacturers unconcerned about user safety could market products that put end users at risk.
According to Mr Fawcett, the “whole situation is out of control”, with consumers at risk due to the actions of certain manufacturers.
“The government put legislation in place to make sure everyone could be held accountable for the products they put into circulation. Now, with these short fill bottles, this legislation is being sidestepped.”
“The MHRA is not regulating these products and that’s a big mistake, as no one is patrolling the products vapers are using on a day to day basis.”
Mr Fawcett notes that many unregulated manufacturers are drawn to producing short fills due to the relative simplicity of these e-liquids.
““Professional e-liquid manufacturers spend thousands of pounds on testing to make sure their products are safe for consumer use and don’t contain any nasties.”
“Due to the move in the market towards short fills, unscrupulous people are producing e-liquids from the comfort of their homes with no knowledge of safety or good manufacturing practices.”
These short fills are then distributed to vendors, who sell them on to consumers. Others are sold using online marketplaces such as eBay.
“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 of liquid, sell it locally and never have to deal with the consequences – that can’t be right.”
Many of these unregulated short fills use ingredients from countries such as China and others in East Asia, where few regulations cover product safety. Mr Fawcett stated that he’s seen a short fill from Malaysia that contained a spider, raising questions about manufacturing standards.
To avoid being sold a potentially unsafe product, Mark recommends that potential buyers take steps to check that they’re dealing with a reliable manufacturer. This can include checking that manufacturers are properly registered by the MHRA, a process that can be completed online.
Consumers should also check whether they’re dealing with a manufacturer that produces their own e-liquids or a reseller that outsources production by looking at the product’s labeling.
“Often, homemade short fills will have on the packaging, ‘manufactured for’ followed by the name of a wholesaler, rather than ‘manufactured by’, which provides accountability.”