Young girl vaping outdoors

Source: GettyImages_Credit bombardir

Scotland’s Tobacco and Vaping Framework: Roadmap to 2034, which was published earlier this week, has revealed that the Scottish Government will consider whether to raise the age of sale of vapes as part of plans to stop young people taking up vaping.

The Scottish Government stated that it would be working on a UK-wide basis on proposals included within the Smoke Free Generation consultation. This includes a proposal to raise the age of sale of tobacco, which would see the legal age to buy tobacco products increase on a yearly basis to the point that nobody born after 2009 would be able to purchase them. 

However, in addition to this, Scotland will also consider changing the age of sale of vapes. 

The Framework document claimed that: “Vapes have a role to play in smoking cessation, but we know that children and young people are using these devices. Children and young people may not fully understand the risks and implications of using these devices or be able to make informed decisions. Many of them contain nicotine and, as with tobacco, it is much easier to never start than it is to give up an addiction.

“The current UK-wide consultation is currently focused on raising the age of sale of tobacco only. As part of the first implementation plan we will consider whether any potential raise in age of sale of tobacco should be introduced alongside an increase in the age of sale of vapes. Any change to the age of sale of vapes would require consultation before introduction.”

The proposal has been condemned by the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA). 

Michael Landl, director of the WVA, said: “While the intention to curb smoking is commendable, it’s concerning that the Scottish Government is considering extending this ban to vaping. It’s important to remember that it’s already illegal for teenagers to buy vapes. Adding another layer of prohibition doesn’t solve the underlying issues. Instead, we need to focus on enforcing existing laws more effectively and addressing the reasons why teenagers start smoking or vaping in the first place.”

He raised concerns that such a move would fuel the illicit trade.

“Will there be vape smuggling gangs operating bringing vapes from England into Scotland? As absurd as this sounds, we have seen in the past what prohibition leads to. Prohibition has a history of failure, and this is no different. Banning the most successful smoking cessation tool in history makes little sense and is counterproductive. We have seen similar approaches fail disastrously in Australia, leading to a booming black market.”

He added: “Equating vaping with smoking and subjecting them to the same regulations is a fundamental misunderstanding of harm reduction. Vaping is not smoking and should not be treated as such. By embracing harm reduction and recognising the unique role of vaping, Scotland has the opportunity to make a significant positive impact on public health.”

The WVA urged the Scottish Government to reconsider this approach and adopt policies that “genuinely reflect the differences between smoking and vaping”, focusing on harm reduction and public health.