By Tony O’Reilly-
An urgent review has been commissioned by the Scottish government into the environmental impact of disposable vapes – which could lead to an outright ban.
The move comes amid emerging concerns around the negative consequences of the single-use devices. The Scottish government is seeking to keep its citizens safe from any dangers arising from vapes
Zero Waste Scotland is poised to undertake the review into the smoking alternatives, considering international responses.
Vaping is known to be much safer than smoking, but experts have long been keen to stress that it is still significantly harmful.
E-cigarettes heat nicotine (extracted from tobacco), flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosol inhaled by its users. Regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic, it is not known how many chemicals are in e-cigarettes.
Experts are generally united in the fact that vaping exposes one to fewer toxic chemicals than smoking traditional cigarettes
Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “Not only are single-use vapes bad for public health, they are also bad for the environment.
“From litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities, there are issues which need to be addressed urgently.
“We will consider the evidence and expert advice and come forward with policy options, which could include a potential ban on single-use vapes.”
She added: “In the meantime, we would urge everyone who uses these products to make sure they are disposed of properly.”
The Scottish government said other approaches could include increasing access to responsible disposal options, improved product design or public communications campaigns.
Nicotine is known to be the primary agent in regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and is highly addictive. It precipitates the crave for a smoke, and sparks withdrawal symptoms for those who ignore it craving.
It is a toxic substance that raises the blood pressure and spikes the human adrenaline, which increases the heart rate and the likelihood of a heart attack.
The chemicals that make up the vapor in e-cigarettes and their overall effect on physical health in the long term has not been fully established.
“People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health,” Blaha., an expert in the field said.
“Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma, as well as associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease. You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said “any form of littering is unacceptable”.
He added: “Single-use items, like disposable vapes, are becoming an all-too-common eyesore in areas where we live, work and socialise, and can last in our environment for years and years.
“Tackling our throwaway culture is a priority here at Zero Waste Scotland and we are happy to lead on this important review.”
The move comes after Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was challenged by Green MSP Gillian Mackay over the products at Holyrood this week.
Mr Yousaf said he would speak to “stakeholders” on the issue, adding that ministers would consider a “potential ban”.
But the vaping industry has hit out at the plans, with Neil McLaren, the co-CEO of Vaping.com/UK, saying: “This virtue signalling move from Holyrood reeks of hypocrisy since they’re happy to keep cigarettes on the market.
“Those additional tax revenues must be important.”
Tobacco duty is not set or paid by the Scottish government, as a reserved tax it is handled by the UK government.
Mr McLaren added: “Yousaf should work on reducing the smoking rate in Scotland – which has the highest smoking rates in Britain – instead of carping on about vapes.
“If they encourage smokers to switch instead of banning vapes, they can make a real difference to public health and the planet.”