Work is currently under way to assess the impact of vapes on public health. 

By Bill Heaney

There is evidence that young people who would not have considered smoking cigarettes are taking up vaping, according to Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health in the SNP government.
Green MSP Gillian Mackay  has asked him what work is currently under way to assess the impact of vapes on public health. 

Humza Yousaf told her: “We continue to work with stakeholders, including Public Health Scotland and ASH Scotland, to ensure that we have a broad understanding of the impact of vaping on public health.

“The World Health Organization states that vapes are ‘undoubtedly harmful’ to health. However, given the limited time for which they have been used, there is limited evidence on their long-term impact.

“We are working to review the range of evidence that is available, and that will influence our refreshed tobacco action plan, which is due to be published in the autumn.”

Gillian Mackay said: “There are many issues with vapes, including in relation to flavours and advertising, that we should be tackling, and I hope that the cabinet secretary would support that.

“As well as being an issue for public health, vapes are an issue for the environment. That is covered in today’s Daily Record, which is running a campaign on the issue. Would the cabinet secretary support a ban on single-use vapes?”

Humza Yousaf, pictured left,  replied: “I congratulate the Daily Record on its campaign and make special mention of Laura Young, whom the Daily Record describes colloquially as the ‘vape crusader’, which I thought was a fair name for her.

“She has done an incredible job in going around the country picking up single-use vapes, which are undoubtedly causing environmental harm.

“Gillian Mackay is absolutely right. There is a public health issue, which we are exploring and will explore, but, as she would imagine, I am working with my colleague the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity on the environmental impact of vapes.

“We will ask stakeholders with the relevant expertise to examine the evidence and assess what action the Scottish Government and other partners should take. That will include consideration of a potential ban. I will, of course, keep the member updated.

Siobhan Brown (SNP) said: “As the cabinet secretary might be aware, the issue of youth vaping is one that I have taken a particular interest in, and I am looking forward to a members’ business debate on the subject at the end of the month. Has the Scottish Government conducted an assessment of advertising by the vaping industry?”

Humza Yousaf replied: “We should look into that issue. As I have said, there are a number of issues to consider from a public health perspective.

“We know that there is evidence that young people who would not have considered smoking cigarettes are taking up vaping.

“There is concern about advertising—in particular, the advertising on social media platforms, but also the advertising on other platforms.

“That should be part of the consideration that I referenced in my response to Gillian Mackay.

“Stakeholders with the relevant expertise should explore and examine a range of issues in relation to vaping, including a potential ban on disposable single-use vapes.”

Top of page picture: There has already been a campaign in local schools against smoking.

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