Illegal and harmful ingredients, inefficient safety protocols, and poor-quality e-liquid are just a few things that can happen when you buy imitation vape products.
As fake Geek Bars and Elf Bars flood the market, an increasing number of beginner (and even advanced!) vapers are falling for fake products. Counterfeit vaping products are bound to leave a bad taste in your mouth, and not just because you’ve been duped. The health implications associated with fake disposable vape products are dire.
Check out our list of the best disposable vape pens from reputable stores to avoid counterfeit disposables.
The Problem With Fake Vape Products
Fake products are nothing new; since the dawn of time, industry-leading brands have been battling against counterfeit versions of their best-selling products. Unfortunately for us, fake vape products are far more serious than counterfeit tops and jeans.
No Quality Control
Reputable companies are at constant war with imitation products, which don’t go through the same quality control standards as the real deal.
A real Geek Bar Pro has to pass several quality control procedures before it even touches the shelves of your local shop. A fake Geek Bar Pro won’t have the same assurances and is infinitely more dangerous.
With quality control out of the picture, counterfeit manufacturers can cut as many corners as they want. The device might be much cheaper than usual, but that’s because it costs far less to make a product that doesn’t abide by industry standards. The temperature control, variable wattage output, and boost mode that you love so much might be ticking time bombs!
Potential Dangerous Ingredients
Fake disposable vapes are no joke. As well as the moral problem of selling a fake vape product, there is also the question of public health. You never know what will be inside your disposable vape, but what’s the likelihood that the counterfeit manufacturer has put the right e-liquid ingredients on the packaging?
The answer is: very slim.
One study found that fake e-liquids often contain less or more nicotine than stated on the packaging. Nicotine warnings play a vital role in ensuring consumer safety. If you accidentally consume too much nicotine, you could experience vomiting, nausea, headaches, and tremors. In extreme cases, people who consume a lot of nicotine can develop nicotine poisoning, which could lead to death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 50 to 60mg of nicotine is a deadly dose for adults who weigh around 150 lbs. Just a few mislabeled nicotine products can have deadly consequences.
Underage vaping has been a concern for years now, and the issue has come under the spotlight again due to the rise in fake disposable vapes on social media platforms.
TikTok, the app that allows users as young as 13 to create an account, has seen a rise in accounts that sell fake disposable vapes. Disposable vapes like Elf Bar and Geek Bar are very popular among young people, who favor convenience and style. With all this information, it’s reasonable to assume that these accounts are targeting young people.
If you’re wondering “are disposable vapes safe?” our guide covers the potential risks and benefits.
How to Spot & Avoid a Fake Disposable Vape
The only way to protect yourself from counterfeit disposable vapes is to learn how to spot them. This can be very difficult, especially when you realize that the fake and real versions of your product look identical. Adding on to that, a lot of fake disposable vape products are made in Shenzhen, China, which is exactly where the real version is made.
Alas, there are a few things that you can do to avoid buying imitation vape products.
Purchase From a Reputable Source
If you want to avoid market imitations, you should always buy from reputable places. Reputable doesn’t necessarily mean in-person. There are a lot of online retailers that’ll do the legwork necessary to make sure that they’re only selling legitimate products.
Before you buy, do your research. Are there 500 reviews on Google telling you that this shop sells genuine products? Then it’s probably a good option.
Verify the Authenticity
Packaging can give consumers a false sense of security. But beware, scammers often create packaging that is identical to the real deal.
Luckily, there are three key factors that scammers can’t replicate.
The hologram is difficult to replicate, and counterfeit vape products often fall at this hurdle.
Grab a legitimate product and compare it to your new device. Does the packaging look the same? Take a closer look at the hologram. Is the font the same? Even the placement of the hologram can alert you to a dud product.
QR (verification) code:
Legitimate brands have started labeling vape products with QR codes. The code will take you to the brand’s website, where you can verify your purchase.
Of course, scammers are aware of this failsafe. Some scammers even create fake websites and verification pages. You should always be aware of the URL, especially before you input any information into the site. If you’re unsure, just open a new tab and go directly to the brand’s website. You’ll be able to find the verification page from there.
Security codes are yet another failsafe that legitimate brands use to reassure customers. Just scratch off the surface, make a note of the verification code, and go to the website to verify your product.
Check the Nicotine Strength
Simple figures can differentiate a real disposable vape from a fake one. Believe it or not, the nicotine concentration can tell you whether your device is legitimate.
First, you can check the nicotine strength options that the brand offers. For example, if brand X only offers 3mg, 6mg, and 9mg options, but the packaging for your new device states that it contains 12mg of nicotine, then you know something is wrong.
Second, you can assess whether the nicotine strength on the packaging is realistic. In many European countries, there is a limit of 20mg/ml across all vape products. If your disposable vape claims to contain 30mg/ml of e-liquid and you’re based in Europe, it isn’t allowed to be sold in your country.
The US hasn’t established a limit on nicotine strength, but legislators are always trying to push through bills to tackle nicotine consumption.
Check the Liquid Capacity
Like nicotine strength, e-liquid is a clear numerical indicator that can legitimize your disposable vape devices.
Some vaping products have e-liquid limits. In the UK, brands can only sell products that contain 2ml of liquid with nicotine. Of course, many disposable vapes are pre-filled with e-liquid, so the manufacturers have to follow this rule.
The US doesn’t have the same rule, but you can still compare the amount of liquid in your disposable to the amount on the website. If the numbers don’t match, you might have bought one of the many fake disposable vaping products on the market.
If you want tips on how to refill a disposable vape, check out our detailed guide.
We all want a bargain, but at what cost?
Fake vapes are cheaper than the real deal, usually due to the fact that scammers can cut a lot of corners when they’re operating under the law.
A counterfeit vape product might cost $5 less than the real alternative, but that’s a small price to pay for your health. A Trading Standards officer in Derbyshire, England tested a fake vape product and found arsenic, lead, and formaldehyde in the device. This just proves that manufacturers of counterfeit goods don’t care about your well-being.
If you see a well-known device like Elf Bar or Geek Bar on sale for a fraction of the original price, you’ve probably found an illegitimate product. It may be better for your pocket, but it’s bound to be worse for your health.
Check the Advertized Puff Count
In the vape industry, it’s normal to label vaping products according to the number of puffs. It’s especially common for disposable vapes, which are designed for maximum convenience and nicotine hits.
600 puff products are common in Europe, as this is the limit in most European countries. However, in places like the US, the number shoots up. In America, anyone can get their hands on a vape device that promises up to 3,500 puffs.
Some sources say that a 3,500-puff device is equivalent to smoking 280 cigarettes, which is just one of the reasons why they elicit such a negative response. Counterfeit products that produce enough power to promise 3,500 puffs won’t have the same safety features as legitimate devices.
Not sure about the puff-count limit in your country? A quick Google search should answer your question. Does the puff count match the UK regulations? How about the US regulations? If the numbers don’t match, don’t take a puff. You could be inhaling counterfeit products that aren’t safe for consumption.
Analyze the Packaging
Before you start vaping, take a good look at the packaging. The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) requires manufacturers to put certain features on the packaging.
Let’s look at a few of the rules.
A health warning must appear on the front and the back of the packaging. It must be in Helvetica font and cover 30% of the surface. Manufacturers can’t just choose from any health warnings, instead, they have to choose from these two:
- ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for non-smokers.’
- ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.’
Manufacturers must include a leaflet in the packaging. The leaflet should include the following information:
- Instructions on refilling
- Warning for specific at-risk groups (e.g. pregnant or breastfeeding women, people who have heart disease)
- Possible side effects (e.g. nausea, headaches)
TPD-compliant versions will always have these features, regardless of the product. Non-TPD-compliant versions could have any kind of packaging. In fact, some people even report buying loose disposable vapes that come with no packaging at all!
What Should I Do With a Fake Disposable Vape?
After reading through this article, you might have realized that you’ve bought counterfeit products. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. The most important thing to do is to stop using the device straight away.
We know that it’s tempting to continue using illegitimate Geek Bars, especially if they taste just like the real thing. If you keep drawing on your device, you are opening the doors to a whole host of unkind chemicals. You never know what’s inside a counterfeit vape, so it’s best to throw it away.
Can I Get a Refund For Counterfeit Disposable Vapes?
You can try, but the answer is usually no.
More often than not, fake vape products are sold in local shops. There is usually an understanding that the device will be far cheaper than normal, but it won’t be legitimate. Besides, the sort of people who sell devices that contain unknown chemicals to the masses are not likely to offer refunds.
Likewise, legitimate brands don’t have to refund products that aren’t theirs to begin with! Geek Vape is not responsible for fake Geek Bars, so you won’t get your money back if you’ve bought a knock-off product from your local corner shop.
Of course, you can get a refund if you’ve bought the product from the manufacturer or a reputable website or shop. Take pictures of the fake device and send them to the manufacturer. They should immediately refund your money.
With thousands of vape products sold every week, it’s no surprise that the counterfeit market is booming. Leaders and lawmakers in the vape industry are working hard to promote safe vaping, but ultimately the responsibility lies with you.
Now that you’ve read our tips on spotting fake disposable vapes, there’s no reason why you would buy an illegitimate device. As long as you’re aware of packaging, e-liquid amounts, nicotine strength limits, and the vaping laws in your country, you’ll be fine.