Prohibition of the sale and supply of single-use vapes: Island Communities Impact Screening Assessment

Island Communities Impact Screening Assessment (ICIA) for the proposed prohibition on the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland.

Data and Stakeholders


35. Summary of activities:

  • Framing exercise: Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government discussion.
  • Evidence-gathering: quantitative and qualitative data and evidence were sourced, including evidence from existing large Scotland- and UK-level surveys and evidence from other relevant policy impact assessments.
  • Six-week public consultation on the proposed vapes regulations and implementation of the policy.[43]

36. The Scottish Government, supported by Zero Waste Scotland undertook an initial scoping exercise to identify ways in which the impact of the policy could differ for island communities in February 2024. Island community representatives were engaged ahead of the consultation period.

37. A number of potential impacts were identified prior to and during the framing exercise:

  • Potential increase in the cost of reusable vape product for consumers; initially, the cost of reusable vapes is higher compared to single-use items.
  • Requirement for island retailers to change their business model to sell reusable vapes products only.
  • Availability of vapes after the proposal comes into force.
  • Waste management - reduced costs from reduction of single-use vapes requiring end of life disposal.
  • Reduced litter cleansing costs as the availability of commonly littered single-use vapes is restricted.
  • Requirement for communications materials to be made available in Gaelic.

38. The framing exercise identified a limited number of potential impacts. As a result, a desk-based approach was considered to be appropriate for this stage of the ICIA and has been used to source existing data and evidence.

39. This ICIA has summarised potential impacts based on available information at the time of production and will be used by the Scottish Government to inform implementation of the policy. Appropriate monitoring of the policy is required to ensure emerging impacts are identified and addressed where appropriate post-implementation.

40. All engagement adhered to our commitments under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3. This ensures our tobacco control policies are protected from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

Impacts which are not significantly different for island communities

41. Early discussions during the framing exercise on the following three areas initially highlighted the potential for differential impacts. However, after further discussion and desktop-based research it was determined there would be no differential impacts. Reasoning for these decisions can be found below.

42. The public consultation provided opportunities for island communities to comment on these issues. The consultation paper asked for responses to the associated impact assessments in addition to policy-specific questions. The question in relation to the ICIA asked: 'Do you have any comment or feedback on our Island Communities Impact Screening Assessment?'

43. 18 responses were received. The majority of responses advised they had no views on the ICIA, or that they did not think one was required.

44. Three of the responses voiced agreement with the content of the ICIA or more generally with the policy to ban single-use vapes.

Island retailers change to business model to sell reusable vapes products only

45. We estimate around 123 businesses across the islands sell vapes.[44] Of these shops, 20 are currently registered to sell vapes but not tobacco products, with the remainder selling both vapes and tobacco products. We expect all current retailers to switch their products to reusable alternatives and their associated products.

46. This requirement would be the same for businesses across Scotland. We found no reason this would be disproportionately expensive or problematic for those operating in island communities. The accompanying Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) considers business impacts further.

47. One respondent to the consultation voiced agreement with the ICIA as there were no on-island vapes producers.

Availability of vapes after the proposal comes into force

48. Consideration was given to the impact of the proposal on overall availability, particularly to those using vapes as a method of smoking cessation. As all current retailers are anticipated to switch products to reusable alternatives, the availability of vapes for smoking cessation purposes should remain the same. Similarly, the availability of reusable vape products from online retailers is anticipated to remain the same as currently for those on islands.

Vapes proposal communication materials in Gaelic

49. Gaelic is an integral part of Scotland's national identity, cultural heritage and history and the Scottish Government are committed to the promotion and inclusion of the Gaelic language and speakers where possible[45].

50. The number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland is significantly higher in island communities compared to mainland Scotland. According to the 2011 census, around 1.1% of the population across Scotland[46] can speak, read or understand Gaelic. This increases to more than 50% in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and around 4-5% in Highland and Argyll & Bute council areas.[47]

51. As service providers and retailers operating in island communities already incorporate Gaelic into their communications, it is expected this would continue to be the case with this proposal without further intervention. It is therefore concluded that no further exploration of provision for Gaelic language communications is required.

Impacts which are potentially significantly different for island communities

52. The following issues were considered to have the potential to have different impacts for island communities, and are a combination of positive and negative impacts:

  • Cost of product for consumers (negative)
  • Waste management costs (positive)
  • Cleansing/litter costs (positive)

53. These issues are explored in more detail below.

Cost of product

54. A Scottish Government report from 2021 estimates that cost of living in rural Scotland, including the islands, is between 15% and 30% higher than urban parts of the UK.[48] The budgets that households need to achieve a 'minimum acceptable' living standard in rural Scotland are typically 10-40% higher than elsewhere in the UK.[49]

55. The cost of reusable vapes from online sources will likely remain constant between islands and the mainland. However, costs of reusable vapes purchased on islands from local businesses are potentially subject to the higher cost of living on the islands.[50]

56. We acknowledge that the cost of switching may be proportionately higher compared to the mainland. However, there is no evidence to suggest there will be a significant difference as a proportion of overall household spending on vapes compared to the mainland.

57. It is therefore concluded that no further exploration of the cost of products is required for island communities as a result of this proposal as there is likely to be a minimal difference in the proportion of household spend on vapes compared to the mainland.

Waste management costs

58. Islands communities face unique challenges around waste management due to the reliance on ferry capacity to ship waste to end-destinations, distances involved in collection and disposal of material, and the requirement to bulk waste for movement off-island (see para. 48). The proposal consulted upon aims to ban the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland. This should significantly reduce if not eliminate single-use vapes being seen in waste or recycling collections soon after the regulations are introduced.[51]

59. Work undertaken for previous screening assessments under the Islands (Scotland) Act[52] has identified that island authorities face higher costs per capita in collecting, transporting and disposing of waste, as the rural nature of collection routes means they are less efficient. The 8-fold Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification highlights the majority of the island authorities have high proportions of their populations in very rural small towns and rural areas.[53]

60. Any reduction in single-use vapes has the potential to reduce island waste management costs, particularly where waste is required to be shipped off the island for disposal elsewhere as in the case of WEEE. As such, there is the potential for there to be a proportionately higher positive island impact from this policy.

61. A key principle in managing WEEE is the "polluter pays" principle, which underpins many environmental measures. The current system of WEEE Producer Responsibility (PR) is based on 'collective producer responsibility'. Unlike in an individual producer responsibility scheme, producers do not have to individually finance the collection and reprocessing of exclusively their own equipment. Rather, the entire market's WEEE is collected, reprocessed, and collectively paid for based on the fraction of each producer's market share, by weight, of each category of WEEE. As vapes fall under a broad category, it is highly likely that all producers within that category (whether vapes or otherwise) share in the cost of recycling vapes.

62. Proposed changes to the current producer responsibility UK scheme for WEEE, which includes used vapes, have recently been consulted on. The consultation included a proposal to create a new discrete category for vapes to ensure vape producers properly finance recycling costs when they become waste. Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations for WEEE have recently been consulted upon, which includes the costs of collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of WEEE.

63. After the ban on sale and supply of single-use vapes is enacted, producers of reusable vapes will continue to finance costs for the correct collection and management of their products. Costs will be determined through modelling for efficient and effective services. We expect island specifics (e.g. geography, ferry transport) to be taken into account to ensure that higher island waste management costs are correctly modelled. This would include costs for any future kerbside collection of WEEE, and the current separate vape provisions at household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs).

64. One respondent to the consultation acknowledged there can be issues with collecting vape waste on islands. They highlighted recent improvements in the number of on-island retailers offering required take-back in store.

65. When reviewing proposed changes to the existing WEEE scheme and bringing in extended producer responsibility, it will be important to be mindful of the Scottish island context to ensure that there are not unintended consequences for island authorities with regards to managing end of life vapes.

66. The Island Community Impact Assessment for the consultation on 'Reforming the UK producer responsibility system for waste electrical and electronic equipment'[54] discusses these implications further.

67. It is therefore concluded that no further exploration of waste management costs is required for island communities as a result of this policy as there is likely to be a positive overall impact and future costs should be addressed through amendments to the WEEE EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) scheme at UK level.


68. Marine litter predominantly comes from land, with a 2020 study by Marine Scotland suggesting more than 90% of plastics in Scottish seas comes from Scottish littering on land.[55]

69. Single-use vapes are becoming the fastest growing litter item in Scotland according to Keep Scotland Beautiful.[56]

70. As the number of single-use vapes being disposed of is expected to drop immediately after the ban comes into effect, we would also expect to see an immediate reduction in single-use vapes being littered.[57]

71. Reduced littering of single-use vapes is likely to have positive impacts, both in improved disamenity and reduced levels of associated cleansing costs.[58]

72. It is therefore concluded that no further exploration of cleansing and litter impact is required for island communities as this benefit will be seen across Scotland and in all coastal areas.



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