Despite the many benefits of vaping, e cigarettes still get a bad name in the press more often than we’d like. Whether because of bad flavour, a shoddy piece of medical research or a faulty electronic cigarette, there’s always something to smear the public opinion of e-cigarettes. One of the most recent examples of this comes not from the devices themselves but from the people behind them. One company and more specifically, one owner of a company has been fined £13,000 for illegally dumping chemicals from his vape liquid factory.
Rehise Khan, the owner of Blue Star E Liquid ltd was based in Bolton and earlier this year was the cause of what could have been a catastrophic disaster. After authorities found 744 empty chemical containers behind Blue Star’s industrial park, it became clear that a chemical dumping had taken place. After hazmat officers took control of the situation, it was revealed that the dumped chemicals were not propylene glycol, one of the main components of e liquid but a different acid-based starch.
What was Rehise Khan, caught in the act on CCTV, doing when he decided to forklift the chemicals if they were not standard ingredients used by his company? It unfolded in court that chemicals that Rehise bought for his vape liquid factory turned out to be the wrong ones, and so he dumped them behind the industrial estate near Bolton in which he was based.
This careless action could have led to an environmental emergency, and with the media attention from newspapers such as the Manchester Evening News, people began to get riled up about the legitimacy of such companies.
To make matters worse, when the company was investigated by the authorities, it was abundantly clear how Blue Star was acting within a grey area of the law.
For starters, the company was operating without a phone number, claiming that they don’t have a number to avoid costly call centres and helplines, and allegedly ensuring their customers the best possible prices. On top of this, ten 10 ml bottles of e-liquid came to a suspicious £8. This is cheap even for a vape clearance sale, and most of the flavours were “herbal” and based on cannabis strains which, paired with the fact that they had no phone number rings alarm bells.
As it turns out, Blue Star’s £13,000 fine was spent mostly on the chemical clean up, whilst Khan was given a suspended 16-week sentence.
The problem is, reckless individuals and companies such as this shed suspicion on the vape industry in general, which works stringently within the law to make sure all devices and flavours are safe for use. After all, vaping prides itself on being a safe tobacco substitute and makes sure that they are there by phone to answer any questions customers may have. What they don’t do is dump chemicals and hide their phone numbers.