Retailers ignored by vaping ban consultation

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A consultation into tackling youth vaping failed to include the views of those actually selling the smoking devices according to a body that represents the retailers.

The UK and Scottish governments have announced that single use vapes are to be banned and that anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 will never be able to legally buy cigarettes.

Now the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) claim that the report which included over 28,000 views left out their members’ contributions.

Chief Executive of the SGF, Dr Pete Cheema OBE, said: “Our views have been entirely ignored. “Ministers received 28,000 responses to their consultation, which were analysed at break-neck speed, yet the views of SGF and many Scottish retailers have been expunged from the records. That’s not right, or democratic.”

The ban on disposable vapes will be introduced across Britain to tackle what Downing Street has called an “alarming rise in youth vaping,” and follows recommendations made by a nation-wide consultation on ‘Creating a Smokefree Generation’.

According to estimates made by Zero Waste Scotland, up to 26 million disposable vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland in the last year. Figures suggest that more than 10% of these ended up as litter.

Dr Cheema added: “SGF recognises that action is needed on youth vaping and the environmental impact of single use vapes. That is why we developed our own set of robust but balanced measures to tackle the situation in Scotland in our Healthier Choices, Healthier Communities campaign. Unfortunately, ministers refused to take those suggestions on board.”

Dr Cheema also suggested that the ban could have a significant impact on shops across Scotland: “Convenience retailers bank on being able to provide a variety of goods and services to their communities. Inevitably this puts more pressure on the cost-of-living crisis and could lead to communities losing the valuable services convenience stores provide.”

Glasgow retailer in favour of vaping

Jaz, who runs Shop Local in Hyndland, said that disposable vapes “get good margins for shopkeepers. They’re good for business.”

“If they’re banned, will people not just turn to cigarettes?”

Jaz agreed with the consultation’s criticism of marketing practices, saying that, “they shouldn’t be marketed towards kids [like], the whole packaging, and all the flavours like gummy bear.”

Figures from the study showed that the use of vapes among children has tripled in the last three years, with 9% of 11- to 15-year-olds now using vapes. However, retail groups like the SGF have gone to lengths to propose alternatives for dealing with the issues outlined in the consultation.

Jaz suggested that, “it might be worth changing the age restrictions, so you have to be 21.” However, he said that as a shopkeeper, “it is kind of frustrating.”

Dr Cheema expressed concern that this decision could impact how the Scottish Government listens to proposals in the future. “The Scottish Government has said it is listening, and the New Deal for Business was launched last summer as a direct response to concerns that industry and business was being ignored. While we regularly meet with ministers and take part in stakeholder events, there has been very little evidence that business engagement is having any impact on policy, whatsoever. Certainly, there has been no meaningful action as a result.”

According to the SGF, 307 responses were removed from the government response due to completing the declaration that they have a link to the tobacco industry.  

Dr Cheema confirmed that the SGF would “engage with both governments to ensure the best outcome for retailers and their communities.”

“It is important, though, to remember both sides of this coin. Vaping is the most successful cessation tool, and we must ensure that vapes remain accessible to adult smokers.”

The ban on disposable vapes is expected to come into force by the end of 2025 at the latest.

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