Prohibition of the sale and supply of single-use vapes: Equality Impact Assessment – Results

Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA) results for the proposed prohibition on the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland.

Key Findings

40. The proposal to prohibit the sale and supply of single use vapes is predominantly focused on reducing the environmental impacts of single-use vapes. However, it is acknowledged that the use of vapes has a public health rationale as a possible smoking cessation tool.[41]

41. At this stage it is considered that the positive environmental impact that the proposal will deliver outweighs any identified impacts for protected characteristic groups.

42. Prohibiting the sale and supply of single-use vapes will impact all current users of single-use vapes and require current and future users to purchase alternative options.

43. At the interim EQIA stage it had been identified that there is potential for negative impacts for those with physical and mental health conditions, and for older people. This may be particularly relevant where vapes are being used as a smoking cessation tool.

44. Along with policy specific questions, the public consultation also asked for responses to the associated impact assessments. The question in relation to the EQIA asked: ‘Do you have any comment or feedback on our interim Equalities Impact Assessment Results?’

45. The consultation received a total of 45 responses. Of these, 20 directly answered the question on the interim EQIA, 9 of which were individual respondents and 11 were organisations. Of these responses, over half advised they had no views on the EQIA, or that they did not believe an EQIA was required.

46. A small number of respondents to the consultation question on the interim EQIA voiced their agreement that monitoring of these protected characteristic groups will be needed as the policy is implemented to ensure policy impacts and progress are effectively monitored. Further to this, one respondent suggested a further health impact assessment of the impact of the policy should be undertaken.

47. Reusable vapes require chambers to be refilled or cartridges to be replaced which may impact those with limited dexterity and, or, visual impairments. There are currently several versions of reusable vapes, with some possibly easier for individuals suffering from dexterity or visual impairments. This includes devices such as pod kits, open tank devices, refill cartridges and closed pre-filled pods.[42]

48. However, at present the alternative to single-use vapes may not be suitable to allow for current levels of independence and dignity for all affected. No specific comments were received in relation to this throughout consultation.

49. For individuals with mental health conditions[43], specifically those in institutional settings who currently use single-use vapes, discussions with relevant Scottish Government departments were undertaken. These suggested practical steps are already in place, or could be put in place, to ensure safe use of reusable vapes within facilities such as prisons and care settings.

50. With a sufficient lead-in period of 6 months to the ban coming into force there will be time for a gradual transition to reusable vapes, supported by facility staff where required to help with safe charging. For example, discussions with the Scottish Prison Service concluded that replacing single-use vapes with reusable vapes utilising prison staff support would be a practical step to ensure safe use of reusable vapes. It is reasonable to assume that with sufficient lead-in time to adapt to these changes, mental health and other care facilities could also allow for staff to charge reusable vapes for patients to use where required. This aligns with the National Fire Chief’s Council guidance note ‘E-cigarette use in smokefree NHS settings’.[44]

51. One consultation respondent supported the finding in the interim EQIA that those with mental health conditions may be more impacted that other individuals, particularly if they use single-use vapes as a coping mechanism. As mentioned in paragraph 36 the Scottish Government will consider how to best monitor and evaluate policy impacts on the identified protected characteristic groups.

52. Given the increase in use of single-use vapes amongst young people[45] and a higher percentage of users in younger age brackets (including under 18s), they are likely to be impacted by the proposal. The recent Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (Scotland) study[46] reported that 3% of 11-year-olds, 10% of 13-year-olds and 25% of 15-year-olds said they had used a vape in the past 30 days. The report also found that there have been increases in current vape use since 2018 for 13-year-old girls (2% to 13%) and larger increases for 15-year-olds (girls 6% to 30% and boys 8% to 20%). However, as vapes are currently illegal for individuals under the age of 18, the proposal will also offer the potential of a significant positive impact on children and young persons’ rights and wellbeing. This issue has also been considered further in the accompanying children's rights and welfare impact assessment (CRWIA).

53. In addition to the small group of respondents who agreed that monitoring of impacted protected characteristic groups would be needed, one respondent suggested that the offer of additional support for children and younger persons who currently use single-use vapes would be advantageous to assist them to cease vaping. This would also include support help to prevent smoking, starting to smoke or the sourcing and use of illegal vapes. This is covered further in the updated Children Rights and Welfare impact assessment (CRWIA).

54. There may be potential for the proposal to impact those where English is not a first language. Accessible and inclusive communication will be used to ensure high levels of participation and understanding of the proposal.

55. There is a potential positive impact identified for reduced littering associated with single-use vapes. Whilst this will create a benefit for all age groups, it may be more significant for younger people (16-24) whose perceptions of their area are more likely to be negatively impacted by littering.[47]

56. This EQIA has helped to highlight areas where there may potentially be impacts on certain protected characteristics. The Scottish Government will consider how best to engage with representative groups and individuals to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from the introduction of the policy.

57. A fairer Scotland duty assessment (FSDA), an island communities impact assessment (ICIA) and a Children’s Rights and Welfare Impact Assessment (CRWRIA) , were also conducted alongside this Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA). The equality outcomes considered in this summary have links with the potential impacts identified in the FSDA and CRWIA, so this document should be read in conjunction with the other impact assessments.



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