The Scottish Government have announced plans to ban single use vapes and raise the tobacco age of sale so that no one born on or after 1 January 2009 can ever legally be sold tobacco in Scotland. The Institute is pleased to see the Scottish Government’s announcement and welcomes this positive move.

Scottish Ministers have agreed to take forward the recommendations following a consultation on ‘Creating a Smokefree Generation and Tackling Youth Vaping’ which ran across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year.

The report also recommends that powers are taken to restrict vape flavours, how vapes are displayed in stores, their packaging and product presentation, along with powers to regulate other nicotine products. In addition, it suggests measures which are already underway or in place in Scotland, including restrictions on non-nicotine vapes and powers for local authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of age of sale legislation for tobacco products and vapes.

The Scottish Government has been clear that vapes should never be used by children or adult non-smokers, but they are one of a range of tools for adult smokers to quit smoking. It is therefore intended that refillable, reusable vapes will remain available, alongside other tools for smoking cessation, including nicotine patches and medication.

Legislating to ban single-use vapes fulfils a Programme for Government commitment to reduce vaping and take action to tackle their environmental impact of single-use vapes.

The majority of the measures will initially be taken forward via UK-wide legislation requiring an Legislative Consent Motion (LCM), apart from the disposables ban, which will be through legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

The ban on single-use vapes will be taken forward using powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which are devolved to Scottish Ministers. The powers in section 140 of the Act were transferred to Scottish Ministers under section 53 of the Scotland Act 1998 and can no longer be exercised by UK Ministers in relation to Scotland. We must therefore legislate separately in Scotland in order to enact a ban. This approach has been used in the past to ban other items such as microbeads, cotton buds and single use plastics.

Public Health Minister Jenni Minto said:

“Smoking damages lives and kills more than 8,000 people a year in Scotland and is burden on our NHS and social care services. Research also suggests that almost one in five adolescents have tried vapes.

“We want to do more to achieve our goal of being tobacco-free in Scotland by 2034 and after collaborating on the UK-wide consultation, we have worked closely across the four UK nations on next steps and now intend to act on taking forward its recommendations, either on a UK-wide basis or through legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

“I have worked closely with Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater on disposable vapes. These are a threat to both public health and the environment – from litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities – that’s why we will act on our Programme for Government commitment and move to ban them.”