Illegal sales of flavoured e-juice on the rise

"Biggest black market since the alcohol ban"

Illegal e-juice. As more US states introduce bans on flavours in e-liquid, illegal sales are growing. According to the American the online magazine Filter.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Sally gets in her car and makes her rounds. She carries coils, mods and tanks. And e-juice, of course. Fruity flavours, sweets, mint. Goods that her customers used to buy from her over the counter in her shop. Not so many tobacco flavours, the only flavouring that is allowed to be sold together with menthol. But they don't get used much either, she tells us. Filter magazine.

Sally is one of several vejpshop owners who, when New York banned all sales of flavoured e-juice (except tobacco flavours), chose to continue selling their products underground. 

Moving the juice lab to the home

And she is not alone. In other prohibitionist states, such as Massachusetts and New Jerseyy the same thing happens. Filter magazine has followed several vejpers and shop owners who use different methods to sell flavoured e-liquid. On the street.

Sally (an assumed name) has about 50 customers. They are between 50 and 80 years old and used to shop in her store. But when the ban came, Sally decided to move the juice lab out of the shop. Now she mixes at home, in her studio. All to avoid controls. 

"It's like being in a mafia film," Sally tells us. Filter.

Illegal e-juice on the black market

The emergence of a black market when popular products are suddenly banned is not entirely unexpected. Quite the contrary. Liquor prohibition in the 1920s in the US is a classic example. And when Donald Trump contemplated introducing a national ban against flavours in e-cigarettes, the fear of a huge black market was one of the reasons why him to change his mind.

But the states were free to introduce local bans. Strong voices from anti-tobacco lobby also received a strong response when many marijuana users suffered lung damage in autumn 2019. The injuries occurred after they used vejpning (e-cigarettes) to inhale incorrectly. manufactured e-juice containing cannabis.

Fear of nicotine

However, the debate after the lung injuries became more about nicotine and regular e-cigarettesthan about the black market where THC juicer, laced with the harmful thickening agent e-acetate, flourished. This is despite the fact that the authorities suspected early on that e-acetate in combination with cannabis use was the underlying cause of the lung damage - not nicotine or conventional e-cigarettes. It was also clear that the dangerous THC juices came from a growing black market.

Obvious risk of illegal e-juice

But a growing concern that flavours would entice young non-smokers to start using nicotine took root in several states. E-cigarettes are largely unregulated in the US, which created opportunities for new and untested legislation: flavour bans. At the same time, e-cigarettes are a multi-billion dollar industry fuelled mainly by small independent shops. According to the trade association VTA, flavoured e-juice (excluding tobacco and menthol) accounts for as much as 90% of sales. It was therefore "quite obvious" that a flavour ban would create a huge black market, according to industry representatives.

Passion for quitting smoking

"E-juice is a product based on a strong DIY tradition. That's how it started 10 years ago." notes Filter.

Smokers opted out of poorly flavoured e-cigarettes from tobacco companies and started experimenting with their own variants. Both in terms of devices and the e-liquid itself.

"Guides are passionate and resourceful. Many who open vejp shops are driven by the desire to get smokers to quit smoking, just like they did. They are not only salespeople, but also activists and guides." says the newspaper.

Today, the penalty for selling flavoured e-liquid in New York is the equivalent of $1,000 per bottle found.

Nicotine and flavour separately

In Europe, legislation such as restrictions on bottle sizes and nicotine have led to a system where nicotine and flavouring are sold separately. In some US states, where the flavour ban is a fact, vendors are finding similar solutions.

"Some retailers only sell the nicotine. They rely on customers buying their flavoured juice elsewhere" scribe Filter.

"Warned politicians to make e-juice illegal"

One example is the former store clerk. Nic Holden (fictitious name). The flavour ban opened up a simple business idea: he buys the nicotine, customers buy the flavour. He meets them in car parks somewhere on Long Island. And mixes the juice for the customers in small 10ml bottles, on the spot in the car.

Word-of-mouth and social media bring customers to Holden. He earns £1,500 a day. That's more than he earned as a shop assistant in a vejp shop. The drive is still to help people quit smoking and then to keep them away from analogue cigarettes, he says. He would do that regardless of whether flavoured e-juice is illegal or not.

"I was one of those who warned the politicians that this will happen. The flavour ban is leading to the biggest black market in the country since the alcohol ban. And here I am, in 2020, selling nicotine to ex-smokers, 21 and 75 years old. People who suddenly feel like criminals. But nobody should be surprised."

More countries to ban flavoured e-cigarettes

The current plans include Denmark and The Netherlands to ban flavours in e-juice, similar to the above-mentioned US states. Similar laws are being discussed in Ireland. Also in Sweden there are lobby groups calling for a ban on flavours in e-liquids. The Swedish government has also tabled a proposal to ban virtually all flavours in e-liquid, including in so-called shortfills - non-nicotine e-juice.


The text is based on an article in American Filter:

Vape bans are creating a thriving illicit market

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1 Comment on “Olaglig försäljning av smaksatt e-juice ökar

  1. Must tell you about my history and contact with the vape world and community.
    In 1979 in Sweden you could buy cigarettes in most shops without age limits, I was 13 years old.
    We sneak peeks for parents. The more brands the tougher. In 1996 I started to get asthma and was given various medications for it, and was advised to quit tobacco, started with nicotine gum, patches, read a book about quitting smoking everything but none of it worked. 2010 I was told by the doctor that I had the beginnings of coal. The doctor wrote a prescription for champix, felt very bad about that medicine mentally, anxiety shaking etc, continued with tobacco, Voxra was the next medicine, nothing worked.
    When the first e-cigs were released they were only available online, I think it was aio ego,
    Hung on that train but it didn't go well. But when the first physical store opened in the city that sold vapes with different brands and juices. I said that I must try this in 2016, I bought my first vape an eleaf ijust s. There was my rescue from tobacco and I am extremely grateful for this and then it was with melonade and an apple juice. So I say let's keep the flavour in the juices. It could be man's salvation from tobacco, it was mine. Thank you vape community for my 4 years free from tobacco and much better health.

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