What is the puff count on a disposable vape and is it accurate? Our solutions to false advertising on puff bars.
Since disposable vapes have risen to popularity in the UK, more and more people are trying them as a first step into vaping as an alternative to smoking harmful cigarettes.
But manipulative practices by some manufacturers have led to misleading claims about puff counts on their disposables. This is partly due to the fact that there are no standard testing methods designed to replicate human vaping.
So why there is a debate around puff counts and what can we do about it? Let’s take a look.
What does puff count on disposable vapes mean?
Puff count means how many draws (often known as tokes or puffs) you are able to get from a device before it runs out of e-liquid, battery power or both.
The typical puff count for disposable vapes in the UK is around 600 puffs, due to the maximum e-liquid capacity being limited to 2ml by law.
Why is there such a debate around puff count?
The debate centres around the puff count stated by disposable vape manufacturers and the accuracy of those claims.
Anyone who has bought a disposable vape will have seen the puff count written on the packaging. Usually, it will say something between 600 – 800 puffs. Yet when these claims are analysed, they do not always stand up to scrutiny.
You may have also seen larger disposables on some shelves, claiming to have over 1000 puffs and often over 3000. Usually, these devices are not legal to sell in the UK, as they typically have more than the maximum 2ml e-liquid capacity allowed under law.
Is one puff the same for different people?
No. This is the primary concern surrounding manufacturer claims around misleading puff counts that take advantage of users’ lack of experience. One person may toke their disposable for 3 or 4 seconds per draw, whereas a different user may only toke it for 1 second per draw.
This means that each user will experience wildly different puff counts. The longer the user draws with each toke, the fewer puffs the user will get from the device.
This makes claims around puff counts on disposable vapes unreliable and difficult to specify, leaving room for manufacturers to manipulate customers by claiming larger puff counts than the device can realistically provide.
How many puffs do you really get from a 600 puff disposable vape?
It is impossible to say without standardising the methods used to determine how many puffs a disposable can provide.
Though it will likely provide up to 600 puffs, it could also provide a lot more if the user only takes small, half-second draws from the device. It could also be much less if the user takes longer draws of 5 seconds on each toke.
It is entirely dependant on the user’s habits, which is why claims around puff counts can be wildly misleading to consumers.
Can manufacturers manipulate the puff count?
Yes. As there is no standardised method to accurately measure puff count, it is very difficult to verify any manufacturer claims.
A manufacturer could claim that a 2ml device can provide up to 1000 puffs. In certain conditions (i.e. very, very short tokes), they would be technically correct. Realistically, however, the user won’t get anywhere near 1000 puffs as they will be toking the device for much longer.
Always be aware of puff count claims on disposable devices, as they may not be realistic.
How can we make puff counts more accurate?
- Standardised puff counts
Implement a standard draw time – such as 1 second – to more specifically define what a puff is and make it closer to a realistic vaping experience. This would force manufacturers to more accurately represent puff counts and allow consumers to fairly compare devices and make an informed judgement.
This would provide similar benefits to using mg/ml for nicotine strength, which allows consumers to accurately compare nicotine strength regardless of quantity.
- Add an estimated symbol on the puff count
This is the easiest way for manufacturers and customers to provide more clarity on puff count. An estimate symbol (such as ≈ , ~ or ℮) already used on food products would make it clear to customers that any claim around puff count is an estimate at best.
Though it wouldn’t solve the problem entirely, as manufacturers can still exaggerate their puff count, it would be a good short-term solution to help consumers make more informed decisions.
Why does solving exaggerated puff counts matter?
If false claims about disposables and their puff counts are allowed to continue, the trust between manufacturers and consumers will be lost and thousands of untested products could flood the market.
It will also harm and undercut legitimate vape brands who have gone through the lengthy process of making and testing their products to the UK’s regulations and then listing them as ‘submitted notified’ with the MHRA.
Untested claims around disposables have the potential to damage the reputation of the entire UK vaping industry.
Introducing standardised puff counts for disposable products will allow for a fairer playing field, will prevent legitimate manufacturers from being undercut by illegal devices with false claims and give consumers the ability to make more informed decisions.
Why do people buy illegal disposable vapes?
It’s hard to be certain, but it is likely the convenience and overall lower cost of larger disposable vapes. One illegal disposable with 3500 puffs will last more than 5 times longer than a legal 600 puff device with a similar price, making it five times cheaper overall.
One illegal 3500 puff disposable might last a full week or more, versus a legal 600 puff device which might last a few days at most. Add to that the fact that illegal devices cost the same or slightly more than a legal device, and the logic is obvious.
Bear in mind that these devices are not registered, have not gone through testing required by the regulations, nor have they been listed with MHRA. There’s no way to guarantee they are as safe as possible.
Should UK law be changed to allow disposable vapes to hold more than 2ml capacity?
We believe so. These laws are designed to discourage excessive vaping and prevent nicotine overconsumption, as well as prevent children from drinking e-liquid.
Despite these restrictions, consumers are still happy to buy illegal disposable vapes with thousands of puffs. There is a clear demand from consumers seeking out these currently illegal disposables.
If this demand cannot be met by legitimate manufacturers due to current regulations, then the unregulated black market will grow in its place.
What UK regulations should be updated?
- Increase the legal maximum e-liquid capacity for disposable vapes
Increasing the maximum capacity for sealed vape devices, such as disposable vapes, where the e-liquid cannot be accessed without breaking apart the device.
This would undercut illegal suppliers of these devices, replacing them with safer and regulated products which have been listed with the MHRA. It would also increase choice for consumers who are already buying these on the black market.
An increase in capacity would pose little to no danger to children accidentally swallowing e-liquid, as it is inside a sealed device and cannot be accessed. The 20mg/ml max nicotine strength would remain unchanged.
Do current UK vaping laws work?
If the laws limiting e-liquid capacity to 2ml are designed to prevent excessive nicotine consumption, they are having the opposite effect – driving consumers towards an unregulated black market that sacrifices consumer safety but better meets their needs.
Disposable vapes are sealed containers of e-liquid. The liquid cannot be accessed without breaking apart the device. This means they do not pose a danger to children unintentionally swallowing the e-liquid contents.
We believe that increasing the maximum e-liquid capacity of sealed disposable vapes will give consumers more choice on the regulated market, and would undercut those supplying illegal and potential unsafe vape devices onto the black market.
This can be implemented whilst maintaining the maximum nicotine strength of 20mg.
This would achieve the initial goal of discouraging excessive nicotine consumption, whilst undercutting the suppliers of illegal devices and giving consumers a greater choice of safer, registered devices.
Disposable vapes must be held to the same standard as the entire vape industry
According to Public Health England (PHE), vaping is 95% safer than smoking, and the NHS is even considering prescribing e-cigarettes alongside local stop-smoking services as part of its campaign to reduce cigarette use nationwide.
A well-regulated industry means safer products that provide people with a genuine alternative to smoking harmful cigarettes.
Disposable vapes can have their place as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, but they must be held to the same standards as the rest of the industry.