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Fake e-cigarettes – More and more people are making the switch from smoking sticks for healthier alternatives like vapes and e-cigarettes which help to reduce the detrimental effects of smoking and the harm caused by active nicotine consumption. However, not many would know that counterfeiting in e-cigarettes is a growing menace which has been affecting e-cigarette manufacturers and compromising the health of consumers.

E-cigarettes and vaporizers have become really popular in recent times, and this is because counterfeiting criminals have turned their attention to the space to make quick bucks. These counterfeiters are now manufacturing and selling counterfeit devices, parts, batteries and e-liquid to gullible consumers, distributors, and retailers. Since they blatantly disregard safety measures in the manufacturing process, these counterfeited e-cigarettes and vaping are prone to combust and have other unintended danger causing users to be prone to a lot of risks.

What is e-cigarette Counterfeiting?

Over 35 million people use e-cigarettes globally according to conversation.com. China is one of the leading e-cigarette manufacturing hubs in the world; However sadly, they are also one of the largest producers of fake e-cigarettes that inundate the markets in Europe and the United States. The counterfeited e-cigarettes have close resemblance with authentic products in every sense of the term. Although the look and feel are exactly like real e-cigarettes, counterfeited manufacturers use low quality materials, and inaccurate labelling, and do not pay any heed to safety regulations. Beside fake products, they also use fake parts in authentic devices that include batteries, e-liquid pods, etc. These batteries are made with low-quality lithium-ion, steel, plastics etc. and pose serious health hazards to the consumer. 

Counterfeiters make use of low-quality materials which interfere with the smooth transition of charged particles and affect their performance, decreasing their life span, and increasing their chances of combustion. In an authentic e-cigarette, the device will allow power to be drawn from a battery for a maximum of 10 seconds, this is done to avoid a thermal runaway. However when combining low-quality components in a device, it significantly increases the power which makes it prone to combustion. Those manufacturing original e-cigarettes are subject to some FDA requirements that include submission of a PMTA (pre-market tobacco application), and MRTP (modified risk tobacco product) application before selling the product. Counterfeiters on the other hand couldn’t care less about such regulations. 

Fake e-cigarettes and the Health Hazards

Nicotine e-liquids contain concentrations between 0.1% and 2% of the drug which depends on the strength of the vaper. According to current EU laws, a higher concentration than the above mentioned is illegal. Manufacturers thus need to declare ingredients that account for more than 0.1% of its content. Although an overdose of nicotine consumption is a rare thing, nonetheless, it can happen. High doses of nicotine can lead to unwanted stimulant effects like hypertension, tachycardia (unusually high heart rate), tremors, and even seizures. Besides low-quality, impure nicotine can also affect the body, depending on the impurity and the concentration amount.

The Rise of Fake e-cigarettes and Vapes

A report suggests the number of fake cigarettes sold across the European Union almost doubled in 2020. It soared from 5.5 billion to 10.3 billion in a year. According to law enforcement agencies and makers of e-cigarettes and vaping, counterfeiting and illicit trade of the product is on a steady rise across the developed world. As demand for the product grows, so does its illegal trading and there is no stop to it. According to Euromonitor International, the global sales of genuine products were worth $7 billion at the end of 2014, which makes it a lucrative market for counterfeiters.

According to executives at e-cigarette companies, a black market for the components used in vaporizers has started to develop in the United States and Western Europe. “We’ve seen an influx of cheap, generically branded liquids from China, says Micheal Clapper, the international President at the Electronic Cigarette International Group.

Many regulations have been put in place, but nothing has been able to check the problem efficiently. To standardize many features of e-cigarettes sold across Europe, lower the maximum nicotine content of the liquid, and reduce the size of the cartridge, the European Union directives came into force in 2016. Though EU officials believed new regulations would improve the safety of e-cigarettes and reduce the number of low-quality or harmful products in the EU countries, not much success has been achieved in that direction. Moreover, many e-cigarette manufacturers are of the opinion that carrying out arduous safety checks would also result in increasing the prices of their products, and this can give undue leverage that would help the black market actors flourish.

The Solution

Considering the steady rise in the trade of fake e-cigarettes and vaping devices, such product manufacturers need to take bold steps to stop the functioning of illegal traders. Since stringent regulation hasn’t been able to prevent the counterfeiting of their products, manufacturers need to find other way, and what better way than using Artificial Intelligence to combat counterfeiting?

Cypheme offers the best anti-counterfeiting and brand protection solution for the e-cigarette industry. Ours is a tamper-proof label which is powered by Artificial Intelligence. These labels are created by an advanced set of algorithms powered by an artificial neural network, and one is able to scan the code simply with the camera of their smartphones to verify a product’s authenticity.

One notable feature of our solution is its geolocation property which helps you to locate where counterfeiting of your products is taking place – with this information, the apprehension of counterfeiting criminals can be effected.

We are driven by the mission of putting a dent in the Global Counterfeiting Industry, and we have so far saved over 75,000 lives, eliminated 10 million fake products, and recovered 150 million euros of revenue across the globe for our clients.

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