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    Scottish retailers accuse government of rushing to ban disposable vapes without proper consultation

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    Scottish Government should not rush to implement the disposable vapes ban without proper consultation with industry and a clear understanding of this decision’s impact, retailers have warned after Scotland government today (23) announced its plan to ban the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland from April 2025, coinciding with UK-wide plan.

    The draft legislation – which is open for consultation until March 8 – is being taken forward in Scotland using powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

    The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has called on the Scottish government to set out a clear plan to tackle the surge in illicit trade that is expected to hit highstreets, following a ban of single-use vapes.

    The trade association for Scottish convenience stores also warned that a ban will make it more difficult for people, who wish to quit smoking, to access alternative nicotine products. Potentially encouraging some people to revert to smoking tobacco.

    SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said, “NHS England has made it clear that nicotine vaping products are one of the most successful cessation aids available. At the moment, they are legally accessible and affordable for adults who wish to quit smoking, but that won’t be the case after 1 April next year.

    “SGF wants to see tighter regulation of these products. They should not be targeted at younger people and should only be sold by legitimate traders who take their responsibilities seriously. Those found in breach of the rules should feel the full force of the law. However, there is already a significant illicit market for disposable vapes in the UK, including potentially unsafe products. That will only get worse after a ban.

    “The Scottish government, and the UK government, need to be clear about how they intend to tackle these problems, which are undoubtedly now on the horizon. The draft regulations do not make it clear how they intend to solve the problem of increasing illicit trade, and that needs to be a priority.

    “Likewise, it is critical they do not over-regulate flavouring, which is proven to be the key driver for smokers switching if they wish to.”

    Another retailers’ body Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) echoes similar sentiments.

    New consumer polling, commissioned by ACS, suggests that the ban will result in a huge uplift in the illicit vaping market, with 24 per cent of existing adult disposable vape users in the UK seeking to source products from the illicit market.

    ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “The Scottish Government should not rush to implement the disposable vapes ban without proper consultation with industry and a clear understanding of the impact the illicit vaping market that already accounts for one third of the overall UK vaping market. The lack of a published impact assessment reveals the scant consideration of how vapers will respond to this change in the law, and how it will swell the already huge market in illicit vapes.

    “We need a clear plan in place for communicating this policy change to consumers without undermining smoke free targets, as our research also suggests that 8 per cent of disposable vape users will return to tobacco products when the ban is introduced.”

    Retailers that sell single use vapes would be subject to conviction or a level five fine.  The full regulations are available here and subject to consultation until 8th March 2024.

    The UK Government is expected to publish details of its own proposals to ban disposable vapes in the coming days.

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