Morrisons joins Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda in removing best-selling Elf vape bar from sale after Mail investigation revealed £6 gadgets contained illegal level of nicotine
- Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and WH Smith have withdrawn all Elf Bars products
- Morrisons and Asda stripped the top ranked Elf Bar 600 range from its shelves
- Mail found 600 range were at least 50% over legal limit for nicotine e-liquid
Major retailers have pulled sales of bestselling Elf Bar vapes after a Mail investigation found the company was breaking the law on nicotine limits.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and WH Smith have withdrawn all Elf Bars products and Morrisons and Asda stripped the top ranked Elf Bar 600 range from its shelves.
It comes after independent lab tests commissioned by the Mail found the 600 line of e-cigarettes were at least 50 per cent over the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay also faced questions in parliament from Tory MP Adam Afriyie over whether he had contacted Trading Standards about the legal breach.
Chinese vaping giant Elf Bar ‘wholeheartedly apologised’ after independent lab tests by the Mail found its ‘600’ line of e-cigarettes were at least 50 per cent over the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid (pictured: Daily Mail reporter Claire Duffin purchased vape bars at Tesco’s in Derbyshire)
Experts described the findings of the Mail’s investigation as ‘deeply disturbing’ and warned of a risk to young people illegally using the vapes, which are sold by major supermarkets
Andrew Bush, professor of paediatrics at Imperial College London, had said the Mail expose was ‘absolutely shocking’ and said it was ‘incredibly worrying’ that people didn’t know what they were taking.
READ MORE: Drug gangs are giving free £5 ‘Elf Bar’ vape pens to vulnerable children as young as 12 in a bid to groom them into organised crime, youth worker warns
It was particularly concerning because, with their bright packaging and sweet flavours, the devices have become popular with children – even though it is illegal to sell vapes to under 18s.
More than half of the 11 to 17-year-olds who admitted trying vaping said they used an Elf Bar, around 100,000 young people, anti-smoking group Ash found last year.
The Chinese manufacturer, which only launched in 2021, sells 2.5million Elf Bars 600s in the UK every week, accounting for two in three of all disposable vapes. The devices usually sell for around £6 each.
The amount of nicotine liquid in a vape is legally limited in the UK to 2ml, of which the maximum nicotine strength should be 2 per cent.
The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 says the limit was brought in to create ‘an environment that protects children from starting to use these products’.
But tests commissioned by the Mail on three flavours Elf Bar 600s, bought at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons branches in London, Derby and Sheffield, found they contained between 3ml and 3.2ml of nicotine levels.
An Elf Bar spokesman later ‘wholeheartedly apologised’ and confirmed: ‘We found out that some batches of the Elf Bar product have been overfilled in the UK.
After the Mail shared the results of the investigation, Tesco removed some Elf Bar 600s from its stores
NHS Digital, which quizzed nearly 10,000 students aged 11 to 15 on their smoking, drug and drinking habits last year, found that nine per cent currently vape — the highest rate logged since the survey began in 2014
READ MORE: One in four university students say they are ADDICTED to Elf Bars – as data suggests the number using disposable vapes who never previously smoked may be higher than expected
It appears that e-liquid tank sizes, which are standard in other markets have been inadvertently fitted to some of our UK products.’
It added it would alert retailers and review its production process. Elf Bar insisted the ‘highly regrettable situation’ did not compromise the product’s safety.
After we shared our findings with the Department of Health, it alerted Trading Standards so they could investigate and ‘take the appropriate action’.
An Asda spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that Asda is removing Elf Bar 600 flavours from sale, while we await the findings of the relevant investigations.’
WH Smith said all variants of Elf Bar have been removed from sale in its stores.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: ‘We have removed all Elf Bar products from our stores whilst our suppliers investigate this matter further.’
A Morrisons spokesman said: ‘As part of our ongoing investigation into the legal compliance of Elf Bar 600 disposable electronic cigarettes with Trading Standards, we have made the decision to remove all flavoured variants from sale.
‘The products will only be returned to sale once stock that fully complies with UK legislation becomes available.’
Tesco has temporarily removed all Elf Bar vape lines from the supermarkets and its chain of One Stop stores whilst the manufacturer investigates.
Elf Bar also makes the second best selling disposable vape in the UK, the Elf Bar Lost Mary. The Mail did not test these products.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VAPING
What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are devices that allow you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke.
They do not burn tobacco or produce tar or carbon monoxide — two of the most harmful parts of tobacco smoke.
The devices work by heating liquid that contains nicotine and flavourings.
They can come as vape pens — which are shaped like a pen or small tube with a tank to store e-liquid and batteries — or pod systems that are rechargeable and often shaped like USB sticks.
Are they dangerous?
E-cigarettes are not risk-free but are believed to cause less harm than smoking.
However, its liquid and vapour contain harmful chemicals that are also found in traditional cigarettes, but it much lower levels.
These chemicals have been linked to lung inflammation, chronic coughs, shortness of breath and lung disease.
There have also been cases of e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire.
Can children buy them?
A law came into force in 2011 which made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to under-18s in the UK.
However, there has been reports of children buying them directly from shops.
What action do experts want?
Campaigners have called for more funding to enforce the laws against underage sales, action on child-friendly packaging and labelling, as well as promotion on social media.
And a Government-commissioned review published in June recommended a review of vape flavours to ensure they don’t appeal to young people.
The paper, by former children’s charity chief Javed Khan, also recommended that cartoons and images on vaping products be banned.
Have other countries already taken action?
The US Food and Drug Administration banned all products sold by e-cigarette company Juul in June.
It found that there was not enough evidence to confirm its products did not harm public health.
However, the FDA then paused its decision in July while it carries out an additional review on the company’s products.
The US regulator had already banned fruity flavours of e-cigarettes.
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