A public consultation paper, Electronic Cigarettes and Strengthening Tobacco Control in Scotland, was launched on 10 October 2014 and was open for written responses until 2 January 2015. It contained 49 questions on e-cigarettes and on tobacco control policy proposals. By the closing date, 172 written responses had been received: 78 from individual members of the public and 94 responses from organisations. A variety of organisations responded: academic groups, the e-cigarette industry, retailers, pharmacies, the tobacco industry, NHS health boards and partnerships, local authorities and other public bodies.
The paper covered: a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s; a ban on proxy purchase of e-cigarettes for under-18s; introducing a mandatory age verification policy for e-cigarette and tobacco sales; a requirement for retailers to register to sell e-cigarettes; restrictions on the domestic marketing of e-cigarettes; the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces; a ban on smoking in cars when under-18s are present; smoke-free NHS grounds; smoke-free outdoor areas for children and families; a ban on unauthorised sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes by under-18s; equalities impacts of the policy proposals; and business and regulatory impacts of the proposals.
Responses towards the age-related policies which aim to prevent young people from accessing e-cigarettes or tobacco were broadly positive across respondent categories.
However, opinion was more varied on other proposals. A majority supported mandatory registration for the sale of e-cigarettes, but the e-cigarette industry and the pharmacy retail sector objected to tobacco and e-cigarettes being conflated in the context of a joint retailers register, especially if e-cigarette sellers were required to register on the existing Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register.
The idea of restricting the domestic advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes elicited a varied response. A majority favoured restrictions but the e-cigarette sector and the tobacco industry were concerned that this would impede businesses’ ability to grow and compete. Several respondents advocated waiting to see how effective the CAP and BCAP codes prove to be at encouraging responsible marketing before introducing any legislation. The majority of public health stakeholders advocated a comprehensive ban on e-cigarette advertising and promotion, with some advocating no exceptions and others suggesting limited exemptions for forms of marketing aimed only at current smokers. A small majority thought that action should be taken on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces.
In response to questions on smoke-free hospital grounds, a majority favoured national legislation and supported its application to all NHS premises. This included NHS Boards who expressed a preference for legislation to make entire grounds smoke-free. Respondents acknowledged the challenges of implementing smoke-free rules across often large hospital grounds and some exemptions were suggested. A majority agreed with a ban on smoking in cars when someone under-18 is present and that the Scottish Government should take action to support the creation of smoke free outdoor areas for children and families.