The Scottish Government plan to consult on plans to ban the sale of single-use e-cigarettes (also known as vapes), following the announcement of their Programme for Government.

The Programme for Government outlines 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 and other appropriate measures.

Research suggests that almost one in five (18%) of adolescents have tried vapes. Zero Waste Scotland estimates that up to 26 million disposable vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland in the last year, with 10 per cent being littered and more than half disposed of incorrectly.

Where vapes are incorrectly disposed of, the batteries increase risk of fires at waste centres and on collection vehicles that can damage equipment paid for by the taxpayer or even be a risk to personal safety.

With millions of vapes littered every year, there is a significant and increasing cost to local authorities through litter clear up and waste management.

Following a request of 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.

In addition, action to help ensure that children, young people and non-smokers do not use these devices will also be set out in this year’s refreshed Tobacco Action Plan, which will set out our road map to 2034.

After publishing his first Programme for Government, First Minister Humza Yousaf 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.

“Last year we consulted on restrictions on the advertising and promotion of vaping products. 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 and the findings will be used to inform the refreshed Tobacco Action Plan.

“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.

“We will be working constructively with retailers and other stakeholders to come up with solutions. 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.”

The Scottish Parliament has successfully taken action to ban the supply and manufacture of certain single use plastic products due to their environmental impact. Action on single use vapes is likely to require a similar exclusion from the Internal Market Act.

The consultation on the proposed ban will be held in the next year.