ASH Scotland welcomes the UK Government’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill

20 March 2024

ASH Scotland is welcoming the UK Government’s introduction of its UK-wide Tobacco and Vapes Bill today (Wednesday 20 March 2024) which, if passed by MPs, will change the age of sale for all tobacco products, cigarette papers and herbal smoking products so that anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 will never legally be sold tobacco products, and will also remove Scottish provisions which currently make it an offence for a person under 18 in Scotland to purchase tobacco products.

The Bill introduces powers for Scottish Government Ministers to make provision about tobacco warning notices, to regulate retail displays of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products and to extend existing provisions applicable to vaping products so that they will apply to other nicotine products, such as nicotine pouches.

It also introduces powers for the UK Government to make UK-wide regulations, with consent required from Scottish Government Ministers, restricting the flavours, contents, retail packaging and other product requirements of e-cigarettes.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity, ASH Scotland, said: “We support the introduction of this new legislation preventing anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 from being sold tobacco, which continues to be the biggest preventable killer of people in Scotland, causing more than 8,000 deaths each year. We welcome that the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will no longer make it an offence in Scotland for customers aged under 18 to purchase tobacco products, as we have long advocated that young people should not be criminalised for buying this addictive, health harming substance.

“As youngsters are attracted to the taste and smell of fruit and sweet flavoured vaping products, as well as the devices’ colourful engaging designs and packaging, restrictions on e-cigarette flavours and packaging that is intentionally marketed at children are necessary robust protective measures. We urge the UK and Scottish governments to move swiftly to prevent the use of imagery, colours and branding on vaping devices and packaging to reduce their attractiveness to young people and for all e-cigarettes to be hidden from view in shops so that they can no longer be displayed at points-of-sale surrounded by confectionery.

“Most e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine, which is extremely addictive, as well as toxic chemicals that have not been safety tested for inhalation and can damage lung health. ASH Scotland supports the World Health Organisation’s call on governments to take urgent regulatory actions to protect children from harms caused by vaping, following mounting evidence of adverse health impacts, and studies consistently showing that young people who use e-cigarettes are up to three times at greater risk of starting to smoke tobacco.

“With the Scottish Government having already consulted on proposed regulations to tighten rules on the advertising and promotions of recreational vaping products in 2022 and having legislation from 2016 already in place to enact those measures, ASH Scotland is calling for the regulations to be laid in Holyrood at the earliest opportunity as one of the vital steps towards bringing an immediate halt to the exponential rise in vaping amongst children and protecting the health of young people now and future generations.”

To see the Scottish Government’s ‘Action on tobacco and vaping’ announcement, click here.