If you are new to e-cigarettes, or don't bother with e-liquids, you probably haven't heard of Shortfill and will not be interested in this blog. However, if you do use e-liquids and a vapourizer of any size, then this is a definite read.


Ever since the TPD came into effect in 2016, the popularity of the Shortfill has exploded but remains a blatant way to get around the EU laws governing the e-cigarette industry.


You might have seen Shortfills in an independent vape shop lately or seen them advertised online. They are 60ml bottles of nicotine-free e-liquid but they are always sold next the 10ml bottles of nicotine e-liquid.


So what exactly is a Shortfill, why did it magically appear after the TPD came into law and should it be allowed to continue?


What is a Shortfill?


A Shortfill, otherwise known as "shake n vape", is the name of e-liquids that you mix yourself. You buy a big bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid and then buy a bottle of nicotine and mix them together and then pour the mixture into your vapouriser.


The 0% e-liquid is normally sold in 60ml or 120ml bottles, which are intentionally under-filled by 10ml or 20ml to make space for the nicotine.


The nicotine is sold in 10ml bottles and are called "nicotine shots", and you pour the nicotine into the bottle and shake it up. The bottles containing the nicotine normally come in 18mg strength and are made up of nicotine, PG and VG (both which are used as thickeners and fillers for the nicotine).

This way you get the flavouring and the nicotine in one bottle, and avoid all those safety rules the EU brought in.


If this sounds like a lot of work, it gets worse. In order to get the right strength you need to do some maths to make it work. For example, in order to get a 3mg (0.3%ml) e-liquid you need:

  • 50ml of 0% e-liquid
  • 1 x 10ml of 18mg nicotine

If you mix them together you get 60ml of liquid, and as the nicotine as has been diluted to 1 part in 6, you end up with e-liquid which has 3mg of nicotine in.


Surprisingly this is the easiest mixture, if you wanted something stronger then it gets a lot more complicated.


It's extremely difficult to end up with a high nicotine liquid with this method, as you would have to have litres of flavouring to mix with. But it is not impossible, and there is nothing stopping you from buying 10 bottles of nicotine and mixing it with flavouring. It might produce something that is way too strong for you, potentially dangerous and a weak flavour.


If this seems like a hassle or a bit dubious to you, you are not alone. So why do vape shops sell Shortfills? 


The short answer is that they are trying to get around the laws that were put in place to protect the health and well-being of consumers.


The TPD and the rise of Shortfill


When e-cigarettes first appeared, there were no laws to regulate the industry. Even if e-liquids were made in Asia and contained chemicals that could be harmful for you, they were still being sold.


There were rules of course, E-liquids used to be governed by the GSPR (General Product Safety Regulations) which states that anything sold has to be "safe". However, e-liquids are almost always safe when in liquid form, it's when they are vaped that there are issues.


Many e-liquid brands came onto the market who just wanted to produce the cheapest possible e-liquid, and it didn't matter what ended up in the e-liquid. Many of these early e-liquids were even made in people’s garages with no quality control or concern for the public’s health. 


One of the biggest issues was the diacetyl scare. Before the regulations began in 2016, a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 75% of e-liquids contained certain carcinogens when they were vaped. The chemicals (diacetyl, acetoin and pentanedione) were found to cause “popcorn lung” and could lead to various cancers!


The good news is that SMOKO has never had diacetyl or other chemicals and our e-liquids have always been tested to surpass all health guidelines and all of our products are 100% compliant with the TPD and registered with the MHRA.


The TPD was introduced across the EU to remove such dangerous products form the market and ensure consumers were only being sold products that were safe. 


The TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) is a massive piece of legislature that covers a lot, but for the purpose of this article, the TPD ensured that:

  1. The maximum amount of nicotine in any e-liquid was limited to 2.0%
  2. All e-liquids containing nicotine must be 3rd party tested to ensure they were safe and did not contain any damaging chemicals
  3. All manufactures had to list their ingredients and produce a toxicology report
  4. The amount of e-liquid that can be sold to per unit was limited to 10ml
  5. Required all e-cigarette devices to be tested to ensure consistent delivery of nicotine in the vapour
  6. All e-cigarette devices could have a maximum tank size of 2ml


The purpose of the TPD was to protect the health and safety of the end consumer and to stop just anyone from creating e-liquids and to make sure that any e-liquid that is sold is safe and tested so they did not contain chemicals like diacetyl.


It was also an attempt to stop the sale of high-voltage devices that deliver copious amounts of vapour.  Some of the large devices that are STILL being sold allow customers to adjust the voltage from 25w up to 250w of power.  A device with this functionality in our eyes does not ensure consistent delivery of nicotine


Because of these new laws, many companies that tried to sell the cheapest e-liquid (no matter what they contained), were forced to test their liquids and make sure that it was all clean and safe for consumers.  Hence many of these brands no longer exist!


And for a little while the TPD worked, the e-liquids that were sold all had been tested and approved, they came in 10ml bottles so no-one could over-do it on the e-liquid and the strength was regulated. 


Then some bright spark thought of a way around the laws that were put in place to protect consumers and introduced the Shortfill.


How Shortfill has got away with ignoring the Law


Many e-liquid manufactures now separate the nicotine from their e-liquids and sell it in 2 separate bottles – 1 bottle with nicotine that must be tested and the other that contains the flavoured e-liquid that no longer had to comply with the laws. 


That's why the nicotine shots are only in 10ml bottles and are 1.8% strength, as they are following the TPD. And as there is literally nothing in there but nicotine and PG and VG they can pass the testing with no problem. 


Because nicotine-free e-liquid doesn't contain any nicotine, it is technically not governed by the TPD. Even though the purpose of the zero-nicotine e-liquid is to be mixed with the nicotine e-liquid and used in a vapouriser, as it is sold separately, it is currently not held to the same standards.


That means the ingredients in the flavoured e-liquid may not be 3rd party tested, may not be registered with the MHRA and is free to include almost anything.  Essentially many e-liquid companies are currently getting away with selling untested flavoured e-liquid which may not be safe for consumers.


By simply selling the nicotine in another bottle companies are able to ignore all the laws which were designed to keep customers safe. 


That brings us back to where the industry started, with e-liquid being sold that may not have been tested, where anyone can make e-liquid and it is sold in huge quantities.


Untested liquid, free access to bottles of nicotine and mixing by hand seems to be a recipe for disaster.


What is being done about it, and do I have to use Shortfill?


The good news is that although Shortfills are technically legal, they might not be forever. There is already talk about updating the TPD to cover Shortfill and countries do have the option of regulating nicotine-free e-liquids like e-liquids that contain nicotine. In fact, France has already done this. However, like any amendment to a law, it will probably take a while come into effect.


Of course, you do not have use Shortfills. If you are using a vapouriser you can buy TPD complaint liquids or you can use an e-cigarette that uses pre-filled refills which will also be compliant as well.


One final issue with Shortfill e-liquids – once you buy a 60ml bottle, you are stuck with that same flavour for at least a week.  Using SMOKO’s e-liquids, you can pick and choose a range of different flavours knowing that you are getting high-quality and tested products.  Or if you use the SMOKO E-Cigarette or VAPE, you can swap flavours whenever you want!


At SMOKO, we made the decision a long time ago NOT to sell large, high powered vapourizers that allow customers to adjust the voltage as we do not believe they are safe nor compliant with the TPD.  Nor do we sell any Shortfill e-liquids or products that have be designed to circumnavigate the laws that were established to protect our customers.


We know that this stance might alienate some people who vape and use the larger devices, but our aim has always been to provide safe and effective products using the highest quality ingredients and flavours that are all Made in the UK that are an alternative to cigarettes.


So if you are looking for an e-cigarette or e-liquids that are all tested and certified to be safe (and taste great as well) then give our range of products a try!



About SMOKO Premium E-Cigarettes

SMOKO Premium Electronic Cigarettes is the UK’s leading brand of e-cigarettes. Since starting in 2012, SMOKO has helped prevent the use of over 100,000,000 cigarettes. Our e-cigarettes have helped our customers save over £40M in extra disposable income.


SMOKO E-Cigarettes contain only the highest quality, pharmaceutical-grade ingredients. Best of all our liquids are all Made in the UK! The majority of e-cigarette brands sold in grocery and convenience stores, petrol stations and on-line still use Chinese-made ingredients.


SMOKO Electronic Cigarettes contain only 4 ingredients vs. the 4,000 chemicals and 50 known carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes.


SMOKO – Amazing flavour, realistic smoking sensation and quality you can trust


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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