Caution with disposable vapes!

05.07.2024 Not marketable, not safe for children, nicotine content not correctly stated, no package leaflet, no warnings available or incomplete – these test results for disposable e-cigarettes make you sit up and take notice.

In 2022, single-use e-cigarettes (disposables) were tested in the laboratories of eight federal states as part of official controls: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt. A summary was prepared for the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), which has been available at since June of this year. A total of 250 samples were analysed for criteria such as:

  • Is the product childproof? Can it be opened and used easily?
  • Is the product an original or a counterfeit?
  • Is the nicotine content formally correct? (The nicotine content must not exceed 20 mg/ml. Other units for labelling, e.g. percentages, are not permitted)
  • Does the nicotine concentration labelling correspond to the actual nicotine content of the product?
  • Is hazardous substance labelling available? If yes, is it correct? (see below)
  • Is the specified number of trains (number of “puffs”) comprehensible?
  • Is the filling quantity correct? (A maximum of 2 mg is permitted for disposables)
  • Is a package insert available, complete and correct?
  • Is the nicotine warning, where necessary, present and correct – in German and on 30% of the two largest packaging surfaces? (Wording: “This product contains nicotine: a highly addictive substance.”)
his is what the hazardous substance labelling for e-cigarettes must look like

250 samples in a year is an insignificant number if you assume that 5 million disposable e-cigarettes are officially sold every month, as the industry estimates. Not including those traded illegally. If these 250 were all suspected or complaint cases, the results would still be very worrying, but since this was only the case for less than 15 per cent, they must be called alarming. Especially as the majority of them came from everyday points of sale: kiosks, retail outlets and specialised e-cigarette shops. Samples from online shops only made up a portion of the other sources of supply.

What it would have looked like if not 250 but 25,000 samples had been scrutinised is pure speculation. The same applies if you imagine results for 2023 – from an even larger, even more confusing market. In any case, just under 1 million unfit e-cigarettes (disposable and reusable) were confiscated in the UK in 2022, and 4.5 million were confiscated between January and October 2023.

The popularity of e-cigarettes, and in particular their disposable version, continues unabated. Young people are the largest user group, despite the ban on sales to minors. They are not yet sufficiently aware of the risks and are not mature consumers. Although the above results raise the question of how a responsible consumer can effectively protect themselves from dangerous products if even basic information is incorrect.

It is to be hoped that the monitoring authorities will carry out more regular checks. The ingredients of the liquids they contain should also be analysed. Ultimately, disposable e-cigarettes are generally a completely unnecessary, environmentally harmful and risky product, which we are calling for to be banned. We have joined the open letter of Deutsche Umwelthilfe to Federal Environment Minister Lemke on the subject of such a ban.