The Dangers of Counterfeit Vapes and How To Prevent Them

As sales of genuine cigarettes fall following a multitude of anti-smoking campaigns and a recent proposal to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2009, alternatives to smoking have been on the rise, namely e-cigarettes, better known as vapes. With health professionals stating that vapes are “substantially less harmful than smoking” the number of people using e-cigarettes in 2023 hit its highest ever level at 9.1% of the UK population.

With such high levels of use, it is perhaps unsurprising that counterfeiters are capitalising on this increasingly popular, and profitable, market. As such, counterfeit vapes have begun to infiltrate supply chains at an alarming rate causing risks to the public and brand reputations.

A Rise in Counterfeit Vapes and Their Dangers

Counterfeiters prey on increased demand. Whether it’s a rise in counterfeit pharmaceuticals during the Covid-19 pandemic or a rise in counterfeit products during Black Friday or the holiday season, counterfeiters are renowned for exposing vulnerabilities in supply chains, thus identifying opportunities where they can exploit demand for certain products. This is what has happened with the e-cigarette market.

According to Vape Club’s 2024 Illegal Vaping Report, the amount of illegal vape devices seized increased an astonishing 19 times between 2020 and 2023. This increase can have a detrimental impact on consumer health with a test of a counterfeit vape by the Trading Standards team found to contain, ‘Arsenic, Lead and Formaldehyde’. Meanwhile, counterfeit vapes can also contain higher levels of nicotine than regulators permit, counteracting the health benefits some users seek from vaping as opposed to smoking.

counterfeit vapes

The Solution to Counterfeit Vapes

While 1.57 million illegal vapes were seized in 2023 according to Vape Club, there are countless counterfeit vapes in supply chains heading direct to consumers. Currently, strategies focus on border patrols or police forces seizing counterfeit vapes or even on consumers spotting counterfeit vapes. However, these methods are not sustainable against such endemic levels of counterfeits.

This is where Quantum Base can help.

Our Q-ID® Optical tags provide security at an atomic level, exploiting the inherent randomness of quantum materials to create a solution which cannot be cloned by vape counterfeiters. These unique identities, known as the Quantum Signature, can be integrated easily into any existing manufacturing process. Once applied to packaging, they can be read by a standard smartphone camera. This means that product authentication can take place in just a few seconds by both consumers and suppliers, stopping counterfeit vapes from entering supply chains in the first instance and reaching customers.

You can find out more about our anti-counterfeiting solution here or contact our team to see how we can support your brand with eradicating counterfeit products.