Illegal vapes shaped like coffee cups or adorned with cartoons that could appeal to kids have been seized by police and trading standards in County Durham.

More than 500 vapes worth £5,260 were seized from eight shops in the county in the latest sting on shops selling illegal devices.

Some had tanks with a capacity larger than the legal 2ml limit or failed to display the required health warnings on their packaging.

The Northern Echo: Vapes cannot be shaped like food or drink under UK law.Vapes cannot be shaped like food or drink under UK law. (Image: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL)

The coffee cup vape is illegal by design, as devices cannot resemble food or drink under UK law.

It is the latest sting operation to target retailers selling illegal vapes.

Since March last year trading standards officers in Durham have seized more than 6,600 illegal devices, worth an estimated £79,632.

Ian Harrison from Durham County Council said: “Retailers must make sure the products they sell comply with UK regulations.

“Once again, it was particularly concerning to find nicotine-filled products designed in a way that could appeal to children.

The Northern Echo: One vape with a cartoon on.One vape with a cartoon on. (Image: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL)

“We’re keen to make parents and carers aware that these products are out there.

“We will continue to work with our partners to remove illegal products from the marketplace, and retailers can always ask us for advice if they are ever in doubt about whether or not a product is compliant.”

It is against the law to sell nicotine products to under 18s or vapes with a capacity greater than 2ml.

Inspector Lee Morris, from Durham Constabulary, added: “Illicit and dangerous tobacco and vapes can not only cause serious harm to people’s health, but the proceeds are often invested into organised crime and can help fund more serious and violent offences.

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“Supplying these products to underage children can also open them up to potential exploitation and criminality – if you are doing this, then you can expect a visit from us.

“We know that our communities will not tolerate the antisocial behaviour and criminality that these activities bring.

“If you have any information regarding potential criminality in your community then please report it to us - we will always act on intelligence submitted to us, as this operation has shown.”