Jac Roper discusses the best vapes to stock and where to seek information if you have problems or queries about employees.

Jac Roper

Which vapes should I stock?

This was the question posed by my old regular correspondent who styles himself as ‘Gassing Around’ (GA). A simple query that raises many complications.

This is very much a fashion-driven market which has led to retailers complaining of being stuck with out-of-favour vape products and their distributors being difficult about swapping them for more recent releases. And Booker, like other wholesalers, does not offer sale or return on branded vape products.

It is generally agreed that e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop-smoking aid in the UK. As the NHS website says: “Also known as vapes or e-cigs, they’re far less harmful than cigarettes, and can help you quit smoking for good. They are not recommended for non-smokers and cannot be sold to people under 18 years old.”

It also defines what an e-cigarette is: “A device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke. E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco and do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke. They work by heating a liquid (called an e-liquid) that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and flavourings.

You need a whole new vocabulary to understand what is available. If you look at online wholesaler Vape Club’s website you will see that they make shortfills, vape kits, vape coils, vape pods, disposable vapes and “everything in between”.

You also need to consider your customer when choosing what to stock.

Vape Club recommends that for total beginners (vapers that is, not stockists) pen-style kits “as they are simple to use and usually come with everything you need to get started vaping”. Also recommended are disposable vapes as they require no set-up and come ready to go straight away.

According to Ashtray Blog from E-Cigarette Direct the eight best vape brands for 2023 are Vaporesso, Elf Bar (“a meteoric rise to fame during the disposables boom of 2021”) with its huge range of flavours, Innokin, Smok, Geekvape, Aspire, Voopoo (lovely name) and Uwell.

It is notable that all Elf Bar 600 Disposable pods were withdrawn from Booker in February this year after an investigation by the Daily Mail found some Elf Bar products contained tank capacities above the legal limit for the UK market. Convenience and forecourt supplier DSL also withdrew Elf Bar 600.

Trading Standards say that around one-third of the stuff on the market is illegal so make sure you use a supplier who belongs to the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA).

The big tobacco companies (BAT, JTI, Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco) all produce their own vape products as well these days. So for anyone new to the category it might be worth consulting your tobacco rep. Philip Morris in particular has long been on a quest to move from tobacco to alternatives and says: “By continuing to seize new opportunities to expand our range of smoke-free products, we’ll be better positioned to achieve our 2025 goal of becoming a predominantly smoke-free product company—with more than 50% of our net revenues coming from these innovations.”

According to newspaper reports the government is now looking at new rules to ban social media influencers promoting vaping because of their huge audience of under-18s. So sites like Tik Tok and Instagram are under scrutiny.

A ban on those throwaway oh-so-popular Elf Bar flavourings is also being considered. There could in fact be a justification for a complete ban on disposables for environmental reasons.

Are you sure you want to get into this market GA?


Got a problem/query about staff?

I think most would agree that it isn’t always easy being an employer.

As this is being written there are three bank holidays taking place in the month of May. It may have raised questions on the employment front.

Should employees be paid for working on the day of the King’s coronation? Do you need to give them a day off? Can you stop them taking annual leave? Can they watch the event at work? Is the coronation bank holiday the same as other bank holidays?

Not questions that crop up all that often but a good illustration of the sort of advice the Employment Law Advice Bureau gives out.

Avensure reminded me recently that the Bureau works exclusively for employers, offering free employment law and HR advice based on the ACAS Code of Practice.

The difference between them and ACAS? Whereas ACAS offers free impartial advice to both employers and employees, aimed at promoting better relations within the workplace, the Employment Law Advice Bureau works solely with employers and business owners. It is a service offered by Avensure and has no connection or affiliation with ACAS.

So if you have any queries or problems that have anything to do with your employees, ring 0800 124 4903. Remember: it’s free.

You can email your queries, news and views to Jac@roper-biz.co.uk or call 0208 8502 9775