A loophole in UK regulations regarding some e-cigarette liquids could put users at risk of using low quality, potentially unsafe products, according to an industry expert.

"Short fills" are flavoured e-liquid products that do not contain nicotine. They're designed to be used with a separate nicotine shot, which is added before consumption by users of e-cigarettes and other vape products.

In the UK, e-liquids and other e-cigarette products are regulated via the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), as well as the Tobacco Products Directive 2016 (TPD).

However, as short fills (which are also known as "shake and vape" liquids) don't contain any nicotine, they're exempt from current regulations. Industry expert Mark Fawcett, manager of GoSmokeFree.co.uk, believes this creates an unnecessary risk for short fill users.

Mr Fawcett, whose business sells a range of e-cigarette and vaporiser products, states that the current regulations have a loophole that's being exploited by people manufacturing poor quality, potentially hazardous short fill e-liquids.

"Because the short fills only consist of Vegetable Glycerin, Propylene Glycol and flavourings, people think they can just throw anything in and try and make a few pennies from it."

"The government put legislation in place to make sure everyone could be held accountable but now with these short fill bottles, that has been sidestepped. The MHRA is not regulating these products and that's a big mistake, as no one is patrolling the products vapers use daily."

Mr Fawcett stated that the whole situation is "out of control" and that the lack of regulations allows unethical manufacturers to sell questionable products to consumers.

"Professional e-liquid manufacturers spend thousands of pounds on product testing to ensure their products are safe for consumer use and don't contain any nasties, such as diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione."

"People buying the liquids have no idea what has gone into their liquid or if it was manufactured in a clean environment. Potentially, someone could make a deliberately bad batch, sell it locally and never have to deal with the consequences - that can't be right."

Of concern to users of short fills is that many aren't manufactured in the UK. Many are prepared using ingredients sourced from China and elsewhere in Asia, often in countries that have little to no regulation regarding e-liquid products.

"We have heard of and seen e-liquids from Malaysia that contained a spider, so god knows what the environment was like that actually bottled the product itself."

To avoid buying products that could be unsafe, consumers should be aware of the risks involved in low quality short fills. Mr Fawcett recommends advises consumers to check the packaging of products to see where and how they're manufactured.

"Often homemade short fills will have on the packaging, ‘manufactured for' followed by the name of a large wholesaler, rather than ‘manufactured by', which provides accountability."

He also recommends checking that the company they purchase short fills and other e-cigarette products from is registered with the MHRA, which is responsible for regulating medicines and healthcare products in the UK.