Concern over youth vaping

Study reveals huge underage vaping problem

Lorna Slater, circular economy minister for the Scottish Government, stands at a lectern.
Lorna Slater wants action on vapes to cut environmental harm and underage vaping problems.

MORE than one in seven of Scotland’s vapers are underage, according to research for ScotGov on the environmental impact of single-use vapes.

The Zero Waste Scotland review estimated of 543,000 vapers in Scotland, 51,000 (9%) were under 16 and 78,000 (14%) were under 18, with most illegally aged e-cigarette users preferring single-use vapes.

The findings and potential ban on sales of disposable vapes has prompted concerned reactions from the convenience channel.

The report said up to 26million single-use vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland last year, of which 10% were littered and more than half were incorrectly disposed of.

Aiming to find a way forward with ministers from other UK governments, Holyrood circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “Single-use vapes have become a big problem – for our environment, local communities and young people.”

The report shortlisted nine potential measures to address the environmental impacts, including a ban on sales.

Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) chief exec Pete Cheema said its members were involved in responsible community retailing and c-stores across the country had led the way on age-restricted products.

He said: “We are keen to engage with ministers on vaping and find the best way forward. Scotland has been a trailblazer on tobacco harm reduction and our sector is perfectly placed to continue to support smokers who wish to quit by raising awareness of vaping – proven to be the best-known alternative.”

Cheema argued that looking at product naming and packaging, along with suitable recycling and takeback options, would help tackle underage and environmental concerns.

Reacting to calls for a ban on disposables in England and Wales, the Fed warned that would fuel illicit sales and not cut littering or reduce their appeal to children.

National president Muntazir Dipoti said: “We believe a ban would risk turbocharging an already booming illicit market.

“Vapes help many give up smoking and are part of life now. If we ban them, the black market will become even more active.”

UK Vaping Industry Association boss John Dunne said: “The Scottish report is the result of a narrow process, lacked impartiality and disregarded any of the major health advantages of helping smokers to quit.”

But Zero Waste Scotland chief execIain Gulland countered: “Single use vapes are made up of components which, unless disposed of safely and responsibly, can last on our planet for years and years.

“The sight of them, discarded on our streets, is becoming far too common. This is why Zero Waste Scotland was happy to lead on the report, which clearly shows that single-use vapes are an increasing issue – for our environment, local communities and young people.

“Tackling our throwaway culture is a priority for us and we will continue to work with the Scottish Government in highlighting the huge impact that littering these items has on the environment.”