Geek Bars – powerful and brightly coloured nicotine devices – are widely available here, both online and in shops, and come in a range of flavours such as bubble gum and ice cream.
Social media site Tik Tok has even had users claiming to be as young as 12 boasting of having sampled the products, while posts and videos discussing them have been uploaded under the hashtag ‘geekbar’, which has so far been viewed in excess of 46 million times.
Meanwhile, someone on Facebook claimed, along with friends, to have vomited blood and suffered nosebleeds and chest pains as a result of using the vapes.
The disposable devices, priced from around £5, are pre-filled with 20mg of nicotine and generally last for between 500-600 puffs before you’re meant to throw them away.
However, one model called the Geek Bar Pro is said to contain nicotine levels equivalent to smoking 125 cigarettes – twice the legal UK limit – meaning it’s not compliant with requirements set out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Often marked as “For the USA” on its packaging, it’s unclear how Geek Bar Pros are making their way into the UK, prompting one leading academic to dub their rising popularity as a “huge crisis for young people.”
Andrew Bush, professor of paediatrics at Imperial College London, also cited the 2020 case of Ewan Fisher, the Nottinghamshire teenager who ended up fighting for his life after six months of vaping left him with what medics described as ‘the lungs of an 80-year-old’.
“This is hooking young kids and making them nicotine addicts. It’s really, really worrying,” Prof Bush told The Daily Mail.
“Nobody knows exactly what substances are in these liquids. I cannot see how putting hot, unregulated chemicals in your lungs is anything other than a bad idea.”
A spokesperson for the UK Government said products that did not meet the requirements of the MHRA should be subject to local trading standards enforcement.
He added that the situation would continue to be monitored and regulatory and legal action taken if required.
Geek Bar has been approached for comment.
Nathan Bevan/Wales Online