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Charities urge Scottish retailers to stop selling single-use vapes

February 17, 2023

Photo: iStock

Charities Keep Scotland Beautiful, ASH Scotland and Marine Conservation Society and climate activist Laura Young have urged Scottish retailers to introduce a voluntary ban on the sales of single-use vapes.

The campaigners have also written to Scottish ministers calling for a ban on the sale of the product.

Last month, the Scottish government has commissioned an urgent review of the environmental impacts and management of single-use vapes, noting that the review will inform potential policy responses, which could include a ban of the products.

The campaigners welcomed the review, but said ‘the time to act is now.’

“We know that 87 per cent of Scottish people believe litter is an issue across the country. Scotland is currently facing a Litter Emergency and single-use vapes are an unwelcome addition. That’s why we are calling on all Scottish retailers to ban sales of the product,” said Barry Fisher, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful.

They said single-use vapes undermines the principles of a circular economy, and when not recycled, its components end up in Scotland’s environment, increasing plastic pollution and toxic chemical leakage.

“Cigarette litter in general makes up the biggest chunk of litter we record across Scotland, and we know that single-use vapes are increasing as a new, unnecessary litter type,” Fisher added.

“We reiterate our call for action, up to and including a ban on single-use vapes. Whilst we wait for the review we’re calling on all Scottish retailers to follow Waitrose and stop the sale of single-use vapes in their premises.”

At the start of the year, Waitrose has announced that it will stop selling single use vaping products, citing concerns around underage use and environmental impact.

Commenting on the charities’ move, Jade Symonds, trading manager at Waitrose, said: “We are a retailer driven by doing the right thing. Not participating in the single-use vaping market is something we felt strongly about – due to the environmental impact and also the risk these products pose in appealing to younger, non-smokers.”

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, added: “The Scottish Government’s review of the environmental harms of single-use e-cigarettes is welcome but retailers should take responsibility voluntarily and show community spirit by removing disposable vaping products from their shelves.

“The marketing and widespread availability of these cheap, sweet flavoured and brightly coloured vapes in shops across our communities is driving a huge increase in youth experimentation with vaping.”

Elliott Welch, policy volunteer for the Marine Conservation Society, said: “The shift from reusable vapes to disposable versions is worrying for marine life, as well as human health. Disposable vapes are not being recycled as they should under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE), and are instead being littered on streets and beaches, finding their way into the sea and polluting our marine environment.

“Legislative action must be taken to ban the manufacture and sale of disposable vapes. Anything less would go against the Scottish government’s plans to transition to a circular economy.

“Action can also be taken by individuals and businesses. If you use a vaping product, switch to a reusable option and always ensure you dispose of vaping products correctly through takeback schemes or designated WEEE recycling points. Businesses can take a lead and remove disposable vapes from their shelves as well as raising awareness of the available take back schemes to help increase recycling rates of vaping products.”