Are Disposable Vapes Legal in the UK?

Aug 29, 2022

Are disposable vapes legal in the UK? With lots of uncertainty on the internet about which vaping products are legal in the United Kingdom currently, it’s important to clear things up. As your trusty online vape shop, we at Oxford Vapours want to ensure that there is no confusion on the fact that:

Most disposable vapes are legal in the UK for people over 18. 

No matter what you may have heard, disposable vapes are not illegal in the UK. However, there are regulations about which types of disposable vapes can be sold and how old you need to be to purchase them. 

Here’s the full lowdown on the legality of disposable vaping under UK laws. No time to read this article? Don’t worry, we have created a 3 minute video covering the dos and don’ts of disposable vaping. 

What are disposable vapes?

Disposable vapes, sometimes also called disposable pods, disposable vape kits or just disposables, are exactly what they say on the tin: single-use vapes. Disposables are pre-filled with e-liquid with a fully charged battery ready for vapers to enjoy. They last up to a certain number of puffs before the e-liquid runs out and the battery dies. It’s not possible to recharge the batteries or refill the pod with e-liquid, so at this point the vape must be thrown away and replaced. 

Why do people use disposable vapes?

Disposables are often favoured by former smokers who are using vapes as a smoking cessation aid and those who enjoy vaping as a hobby. Quitting cigarettes can be a difficult process, but studies have found that vaping nicotine e-liquid can be more effective than nicotine patches or nicotine gum in helping smokers stop

Disposable vapes are the simplest and most user-friendly vapes on the market. They often feature no buttons and are draw-activated, meaning that all you need to do is take a puff to enjoy the vapour. Moreover, disposable devices are often very small and discreet, meaning that they are easy for vapers to slip into a pocket for vaping on-the-go.

Which disposable vapes are legal in the UK?

Disposable vapes are only legal in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) if they follow the regulations set out by the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). This is a set of rules created by the European Union which covers the manufacturing, packaging, and sale of products including vapes in EU countries. The directive came into effect in EU countries, including the UK, in 2017. Despite Brexit, these regulations remain in place in the UK. 

The TPD rules

The rules set out by the Tobacco Products Directive apply to all vape devices and e-liquids containing nicotine, not just disposable vapes, but the rules specific to disposable indicate that they must have:

  • A maximum of 2ml e-liquid capacity
  • A maximum of 20mg nicotine
  • A nicotine warning label on the packaging

How do I identify an illegal vape?

If you see a vape that contains more than 2ml of e-liquid or more than 20mg of nicotine, or doesn’t have a nicotine warning on the packaging, it’s illegal. You can identify a legal vape in the UK by checking that it is labelled as TPD compliant or that meets the above criteria. 

The 2ml maximum tends to allow up to 600 puffs from your vape. Consequently, any disposable vape device that offers significantly more than 600 puffs is likely to be illegal in the UK.

You can also check that the disposable has been approved by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulation Authority) on their website. Just search the product and brand name – if it’s listed, then it’s a legal product in the UK. 

It’s worth noting that many products get caught up in MHRA admin processes, which means it can take up to 2 years to gain approval for certain products. Many of these products are perfectly safe, but are awaiting approval. 

Are illegal vapes sold in the UK?

Unfortunately, some retailers do sell illegal vaping products in the UK. For example, 74 retailers were identified to be selling illegal vapes across Liverpool at the end of last year. Usually, if a retailer is found to stock the illegal products in question, their illegal vapes will be seized by Trading Standards, and the stockist will more than likely receive a large fine. 

One of the most commonly sold illegal disposable vape bars in the UK is the Elux Legend Pro. This Elux model provides 3500 puffs and holds 10ml of e-liquid. Another illegal model that has been found in the UK is the Elf Bar 1500 which provides 1500 puffs and 50mg nicotine content. 

It is worth noting that though these Elux and Elf Bar products may be illegal in the UK and EU, they are legal in some other countries. Retailers who have decided to illegally stock and sell these models in the UK market, knowing the TPD regulations, are at fault. 

To ensure that you only purchase legal vapes, we recommend buying only from trusted suppliers. For example, all of the products we sell at Oxford Vapours are TPD-compliant and legal for the UK market. 

Who can buy a disposable vape in the UK?

Disposable vapes can be sold to anyone over the age of 18 in the UK. It is illegal for anyone over the age of 18 to buy tobacco or vaping products for under-18s. 

What’s the best disposable vape?

Want to try disposable vaping yourself? If you’re over 18 and in the UK, there’s a wide range of legal disposable vapes available to choose from. Here are some of our favourites. 

Lost Mary by Elf Bar

One of the best disposable vapes on the market, Elf Bar’s Lost Mary series bring together delicious e-liquid flavours and an eye-catching design. Enjoy mouth-watering tastes such as Pink LemonadeWatermelon Ice, and Blueberry Sour Raspberry from this Elf Bar range. 

Geek Bar by GeekVape

A real classic, the Geek Bar range from GeekVape is a distinctively designed vapes filled with high quality e-liquid. The flavours available include their wonderful Shisha range such as Strawberry Kiwi Shisha and Pineapple Guava, as well as Hawaii Sunshine Shisha. Their classic range also features some excellent flavours such as Mango Ice and Tobacco.

Elf Bar 600 by Elf Bar

Simple but impressive, the Elf Bar 600 is a tiny disposable device filled with vibrant flavours. This pocket-friendly pod offers great tastes such as MangoPeach Ice, and Grape. If you want one to try one of the best value disposables on the market, this is the product for you. 

Ready to get started with disposable vaping? Browse our range of disposables here.