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Vapes ban 'within reach' as Scottish Government acts on child health concerns

Vapes ban 'within reach' as Scottish Government acts on child health concerns

Scotland is to consider a ban on single-use vapes as First Minister Humza Yousaf responds to child health concerns.

Available in a range of fruity and sweet flavours, the battery-powered tobacco-substitute products are widely available in Scottish shops, with some local restrictions in place amidst concerns over health and littering. Now nation-wide action will be considered.

Environmental activists have welcomed the news and the Scottish Greens, whose MSP Gillian Mackay has been campaigning on the issue, has said a prohibition on the sale of the disposable devices is "within reach".

Mackay said: "There will be a likely faux outcry from those in the tobacco industry and potentially even the UK Government, which likes nothing better than to meddle in decisions taken by our parliament, but this is too important for political games.

"Experts across the medical world and environmental campaigners agree there is an urgent and growing need for action."

Yousaf's first Programme for Government includes a commitment to action on vaping by non-smokers and young people. A consultation will be held on a proposal to ban their sale, along with other "appropriate measures".

The FM said: "Disposable vapes are a threat to both public health and the environment. We know that the bright colours and sweet flavours catch the eye of children and young people in particular.

"The World Health Organisation has said there is evidence to suggest that young people who have never smoked but use e-cigarettes double their chance of starting to smoke tobacco cigarettes in later life."

A consultation on the advertising and promotion of vaping products took place last year.

Research suggests almost 20 per cent of teenagers have tried them and Zero Waste Scotland estimates that 26m of the products were consumed and thrown away last year.

Today's news comes ahead of a meeting on vaping between Scottish ministers and their counterparts in the UK and Welsh governments and Northern Ireland Executive.

An outright ban on the sale of the items would likely require an exemption under the terms of the UK Internal Market Act. The same legislation led to the impasse which caused the Deposit Return Scheme to fail.

Pledging to "work constructively with retailers and other stakeholders to come up with solutions", Yousaf said: "While we will be asking for views on a ban, we are also keen to explore other interventions that could have a more immediate impact.

"Of course, this is not just an issue for Scotland. These problems are being experienced all over the UK and we will soon be holding discussions on potential solutions."

"Vape crusader" Laura Young, a Youth Ocean Network member at the Marine Conservation Society, said: "We must continue to raise awareness and push for action as this is only the beginning of a long road to any potential legislation change to protect our environment and the health of young people."

Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland commented: "Young people who use e-cigarettes are three times more likely to start smoking cigarettes and only a ban would ensure the availability of single-use health-harming products that have become so popular with children and are off the market as soon as possible."

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