Tobacco age of sale to be raised and single-use vapes banned

Moves to protect children agreed after four-nations consultation.

Plans to ban single use vapes and raise the tobacco age of sale so that no one born on or after 1 January 2009 can ever legally be sold tobacco in Scotland have been unveiled.

Ministers have agreed to take forward the recommendations following a consultation on ‘Creating a Smokefree Generation and Tackling Youth Vaping’ which ran across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year.

The report also recommends that powers are taken to restrict vape flavours, how vapes are displayed in stores, their packaging and product presentation, along with powers to regulate other nicotine products. In addition, it suggests measures which are already underway or in place in Scotland, including restrictions on non-nicotine vapes and powers for local authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of age of sale legislation for tobacco products and vapes.

Legislating to ban single-use vapes fulfils a Programme for Government commitment to reduce vaping and take action to tackle their environmental impact of single-use vapes.

Public Health Minister Jenni Minto said:

“Smoking damages lives and kills more than 8,000 people a year in Scotland and is burden on our NHS and social care services. Research also suggests that almost one in five adolescents have tried vapes.

“We want to do more to achieve our goal of being tobacco-free in Scotland by 2034 and after collaborating on the UK-wide consultation, we have worked closely across the four UK nations on next steps and now intend to act on taking forward its recommendations, either on a UK-wide basis or through legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

“I have worked closely with Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater on disposable vapes. These are a threat to both public health and the environment – from litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities - that’s why we will act on our Programme for Government commitment and move to ban them.”


Smoking is responsible for one in five deaths – more than 8,000 a year – in Scotland. It causes preventable ill health, is a significant burden on our NHS and social care services, is the leading preventable cause of health inequalities and costs the economy millions each year in lost productivity.

In Scotland, 82.3% supported restrictions on single-use vapes (79.3% UK-wide), and 73.4% favoured an outright ban (68.1% UK-wide).

Research suggests that almost one in five (18%) of adolescents have tried vapes. Zero Waste Scotland estimates that up to 26 million disposable vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland in the last year, with 10 per cent being littered and more than half disposed of incorrectly. With millions of vapes littered every year, there is a significant and increasing cost to local authorities through litter clear up and waste management. Where vapes are incorrectly disposed of, the batteries increase risk of fires at waste centres and on collection vehicles that can damage equipment paid for by the taxpayer or even be a risk to personal safety

The Scottish Government has been clear that vapes should never be used by children or adult non-smokers, but they are one of a range of tools for adult smokers to quit smoking. We therefore intend that refillable, reusable vapes will remain available, alongside other tools for smoking cessation, including nicotine patches and medication.

The majority of the measures will initially be taken forward via UK-wide legislation requiring an Legislative Consent Motion (LCM), apart from the disposables ban, which will be through legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

The ban on single-use vapes will be taken forward using powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which are devolved to Scottish Ministers. The powers in section 140 of the Act were transferred to Scottish Ministers under section 53 of the Scotland Act 1998 and can no longer be exercised by UK Ministers in relation to Scotland. We must therefore legislate separately in Scotland in order to enact a ban. This approach has been used in the past to ban other items such as microbeads, cotton buds and single use plastics.

The Scottish Government will continue to work with the UK Government and other nations in relation to the ban on disposable vapes, including addressing the need for any exclusion from the UK Internal Market Act through the Resources and Waste Common Framework.

Tobacco and Vaping Framework: Roadmap to 2034 - (

Vaping addiction soon takes hold - NHS inform


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