A consultation on proposed restrictions to the vaping category held by the Scottish Government has been criticised by the industry.

The consultation, which included questions on the promotion of vape products in stores, was held earlier this year, with the results published last week.

According to the Scottish Government, less than half of all respondents (44.8%) agree with the proposal that in-store promotional displays should be banned so they are not used as an alternative means to advertise vaping products while just over one-third of all respondents (36.8%) supported the proposal that nominal pricing of vaping should be an offence.

The consultation attracted 757 validated responses - the vast majority of which were from individuals, with 43 organisational responses. Organisations that submitted a response include local government, health organisations, the tobacco industry, the vaping sector, and other organisations (e.g. those that sell tobacco and vaping related products).

The consultation responses also threw up several further restrictions to be considered by some respondents including: Plain packaging/branding or flavouring; vaping products should be hidden from view in shops or available through prescription and that single use vapes should be banned to prevent plastic waste.

No details on further steps have been provided however the Scottish Government said the responses and consultation analysis will “help to finalise the scope of these regulations”.

Commenting on the consultation’s outcomes, Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive Dr Pete Cheema said: “The opposition here is clear - and the concerns completely legitimate. While well-intentioned to improve the nation’s health, these proposals risk the unintended consequences of actually hampering efforts to make Scotland a smoke-free nation.

“Vaping products are a less harmful alternative to cigarettes and a proven route towards people quitting. If displays of them are banned in shops, fewer people will realise they are available and fewer people will quit.

“We know there are concerns around children trying to buy these products, but Scotland’s convenience store sector is committed to the responsible sale of all age-restricted products. We work with our members to share and encourage best practice.”

Director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), John Dunne, also queried the proposals. “The proposals that were put forward only sought to further conflate vaping with combustible tobacco products by aligning advertising and promotion rules to existing restrictions on tobacco products,” he said. “Following the feedback, we hope that the Scottish Government sees sense and goes back to the drawing board on their proposals, listens to the experts and speaks to the millions of adults no longer smoking.

“It is pleasing to see that when delving deep into the responses, individuals and groups offered strong rebuttals to the more than not illogical and counterproductive recommendations. In its current drafting, these proposals are deeply ill-advised risking the public health potential of vaping.”