Single-use vapes could be banned in Scotland as part of plans to protect public health and the environment.
The Scottish Government published its official plans for 2023/24 in its Programme for Government on Tuesday, which includes a commitment to take action to reduce vaping among non-smokers and young people, and to tackle the environmental impact of single-use vapes, including consulting on a proposal to ban their sale.
It said it was taking ‘action to protect young people and the planet’.
‘Disposable vapes are a threat to both public health and the environment,’ Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf said.
‘We know the bright colours and sweet flavours catch the eye of children and young people in particular.’
Research suggests that almost one in five (18%) of adolescents have tried vapes, the Scottish Government said.
According to the World Health Organization, 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, Mr Yousaf added.
Meanwhile, Zero Waste Scotland estimates that up to 26 million disposable vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland in the last year, with 10% being littered and more than half disposed of incorrectly.
Not only is there ‘a significant and increasing cost’ to local authorities through litter clean up and waste management, but, where vapes are incorrectly disposed of, the batteries increase the risk of fires, the Scottish Government warned.
‘On the environment, the evidence is undeniable. From litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities, there are issues which demand action,’ Mr Yousaf said.
A consultation on the proposed ban of single-use vapes in Scotland will be held in the next year.
‘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,’ Mr Yousaf said, adding that the government will be ‘working constructively’ with retailers and other stakeholders to come up with solutions.
‘Last year, we consulted on restrictions on the advertising and promotion of vaping products,’ he said. ‘Any action we seek to take will build on the regulations already in place to restrict the marketing, promotion and sale of vaping products to under 18s.’
Mr Yousaf said the findings will be used to inform a ‘refreshed’ Tobacco Action Plan, which will be published in the autumn.
This action plan will ‘set out our road map to 2034’, the Scottish Government said, including action to help ensure that children, young people and non-smokers do not use vapes.
Following a request from Scottish ministers, the circular economy minister and public health minister will meet with counterparts in the UK Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive to discuss the findings of recent research and potential policy responses, the Scottish Government said.
‘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,’ Mr Yousaf promised.
In recent weeks, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has been calling on the UK Government to ban disposable e-cigarettes over concerns that vaping is becoming an ‘epidemic among children’.
And in July, the UK’s Health and Social Care Committee was warned that there has been an increase in the number of children presenting with asthma, wheeze and bronchitis-type conditions because of vaping.