A huge amount of vaping supplies are being sold at discount retailers across Britain, and many of them are being bought with counterfeit vouchers, the Food Standards Agency has said.
The agency said that about 5.4 million items were being sold on eBay for £1 or less, the lowest prices in the UK, according to figures it released on Wednesday.
Its figures include the £4.79 voucher for e-liquid from VaporShop.com, which has been a source of controversy for years.
The site is owned by a company called Vape-Shop, and it has sold thousands of products on the site with a voucher for the e-juice it sells.
The website claims that e-liquids can be bought with a single purchase of a VapeShop gift card, but the agency has found that they can be sold without a gift card.
“VaporShop is not authorised to sell any VapeStore gift cards, and the Vape Shop vouchers are counterfeit,” it said in a statement.
Some online retailers have also been caught selling e-cigarette supplies, but they are not being charged any duty.
The agency also said that many e-cigarettes have been sold with counterfeit VapeStar vouchers.
It is not known how many e.cigarette brands are sold on the website, and some shops do not list their brand on their shop fronts.
The FSA also found that in the past two weeks, more than 6,500 counterfeit Vapetars were being sent out by people using the ecommerce site.
There have been reports of people buying counterfeit Vapes from other vendors on eBay, the agency said.
A spokesman for VapeTester, a British e-vapor retailer, said the counterfeit vouchers were being used by many vendors on the eCommerce site.
“We are now aware of the problem and are working with authorities to remove all of the counterfeits from our site and stop them from continuing to be sent out,” he said.
He added that he did not believe there were any fraudulent vendors on his site.
But the UK Vaping Association has criticised the use of the vouchers, saying they are a distraction from the true issue.
“If you want to buy e-cig batteries, they are cheaper, and you can buy them online, you can’t just get them at the local supermarket or drug store,” said Mark Williams, chairman of the association.
“These counterfeit vouchers are the latest way of giving retailers an excuse to continue selling these products to consumers.”
He said e-cigs are not a new product and it was “simply not acceptable” to give consumers the impression they could buy them on the spot, without checking the quality of the product.
Vaping UK, a trade body, said its members are not aware of any shops selling counterfeit vouchers on eBay.
“This is yet another way that people are being duped by e-commerce websites into thinking they can purchase their favourite products at a discount,” said Dr Sue Kelly, a spokesperson for the body.
“Vaping remains the safest way to vape and we would urge anyone selling eCigs to ensure that they are the best value possible.”