Regions In this feature


Regions In this feature risk strategy guidance Vapour trial The number of people using electronic cigarettes has increased dramatically in recent years, but, as Georgina Heath explains, this increase has been met with a parallel rise in safety concerns A n e-cigarettes safety project, run by Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM), arose out of the regional Product Safety Threat Assessment, produced in October 2014 by the TSEM regional intelligence analyst (RIA). This assessment identied product and re safety risks associated with electronic cigarettes. More than 70 per cent of the complaints made about e-cigarettes to trading standards in the East Midlands have been about safety issues, particularly the electrical element of the products. A number of these complaints have highlighted incidents involving e-cigarette batteries and chargers, with reports of them overheating or exploding while in use. The most common factor has been the use of incompatible chargers, not supplied with the e-cigarette. Trading standards product testing from the independent retail market has also shown a high safety failure rate for batteries and chargers. In response to these concerns, the TSEM product safety group was tasked by the regional Tactical Tasking Group to develop a control strategy and a safety campaign. The main focus of these was on the preventative side and the safe use of the electrical chargers and batteries rather than the e-liquids themselves. The enforcement element would demand more resources than many authorities could commit to at fairly short notice, and the region didnt want to duplicate work already being carried out as part of the nationally coordinated test-purchasing and e-liquid-testing project. The main intelligence requirements were around collecting and recording details of manufacturers and importers after complaints, or seizures, of unsafe e-cigarettes, and establishing better links with the re service as a key source of information on e-cigarette-related re incidents. It was decided that January would be a good time to launch the region-wide safety advice campaign; people making new years resolutions could be trying to give up smoking during this month and, potentially, turning to e-cigarettes. Some authorities were able to undertake e-cigarette trader advice visits, or age-restricted sales advice visits, after distributing the information letter and poster to more than 200 businesses. Overall, retailers have been responsive to the campaign. Many have been keen to display the posters and distribute leaets some even asking for further supplies to show that they are responsible retailers, and to promote safe use of their products. In total, 800 posters and 6,500 leaets have been distributed to retailers or via stop smoking services, public health tobacco services, GP practices, pharmacies, libraries and local council customer service points. Media coverage of the safety campaign included interviews on one regional television news programme, as well as several local radio stations and newspapers. To gauge the full impact of this project, the TSEM RIA will review e-cigarette-related complaints and incidents later in the year. FOR YOUR INFORMATION Campaign materials included: G A letter to businesses, both to alert them to their legal responsibilities and to encourage them to make consumers aware of the risks of using incompatible charging devices, stressing that they must use only the charger supplied with the product G Business advice guidance, for uploading to trading standards pages of their local authority (LA) websites, offering further information to retailers on relevant legislation and compliance issues G An A4 safety poster (versions were produced for each LA) to accompany the letter to retailers G An A5 safety leaflet (versions were produced for each LA) for distribution via stop smoking services and other partners G A template press release, for each LA to distribute to local media, to raise consumer awareness of the potential dangers and to provide safety advice G A series of social-media statements for use on LA or trading standards Facebook/ Twitter accounts to promote the campaigns key messages Complaints have highlighted incidents involving e-cigarette batteries and chargers, with numerous reports of them overheating or exploding e-c garettes safety advice Only use the charger provided with it Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer carefully Only charge for as long as required Do not over-tighten the cartridge Do not leave to charge overnight or unattended Do not store e-cigarettes or liquids within reach of children or pets Be aware: Liquid Nicotine can be fatal if swallowed or in contact with skin Look for the CE mark that indicates the charger complies with European Safety standards If this happens, seek medical attention immediately Produced in partnership with Trading Standards Services across the East Midlands Credits Published You might also like Georgina Heath is partnership coordinator Thursday 7 May, 2015 Hide and seek April 2015 for Trading Standards East Midlands. Images: Marco Prati / Shutterstock To share this page, click on in the toolbar