Prohibition of the sale and supply of single-use vapes: strategic environmental assessment - environmental report

The strategic environmental assessment environmental report for the proposed prohibition of the sale and supply of single-use vapes.

6 Maximisation of benefits, mitigation, monitoring, and evaluation

6.1 Maximisation of environmental benefits and mitigation of unintended consequences

The following section sets out potential actions which could be considered in order to maximise the benefits identified throughout this assessment, and to mitigate the risk of unintended consequences.

Efforts to improve the collection and recycling infrastructure to allow users to recycle components of reusable vapes and end-of-life reusable vapes should continue. Some of the environmental benefits identified in this assessment are at risk of being undermined if components and packaging of reusable vapes (for example, refill containers and end-of-life reusable vapes) are littered or incorrectly disposed of.

To mitigate the risk of reusable vape litter and disposal undermining the environmental benefits of the proposed ban, vapes should be adequately accounted for within the revised WEEE EPR scheme. The scheme should have a suitable lead-in period with clear instruction and guidance for retailers and members of the public on their new obligations. Monitoring sales volumes and waste arisings will provide the data necessary to keep track of reusable vape use and disposal behaviours following the ban.

Producers of vapes (and other electrical items) should be responsible for the full net cost of disposal (including WEEE in residual waste and littered items) to ensure there are incentives to maximise their collection for recycling. This should be supported by collection and recycling targets for reusable vapes and their components. Clear recyclability criteria should be developed and be easily available to allow for easier extraction of valuable components. Much of this has been included in the recent WEEE EPR consultation and call for evidence. [162]

A post-implementation review of the ban on single-use vapes should be considered to ensure the policy meets the required objectives.

Communications campaigns could support this to ensure users are aware of the correct disposal routes. Producers of reusable vapes should be encouraged to design containers for refills in a way that means they can be more easily reused and recycled.

This assessment has highlighted the need for further research into the long-term human health impacts of vaping. As vaping in Scotland will continue even if single-use vapes are banned, it is important that the health implications are better understood, and the dangers communicated clearly to users.

There is a risk that some individuals using single-use vapes as a smoking cessation tool will return to using traditional cigarettes as a result of the ban, though the availability of reusable vapes does mitigate this risk. Targeted support should be provided for such individuals, and smoking behaviours should continue to be closely monitored by the appropriate public health organisations.

The illegal vape market poses a significant risk of undermining all of the environmental objectives of the proposal. Industry stakeholders estimated that the illegal vape market could be comparable in size to the legal vape market, with one suggesting it could even be double the size [163]. This is particularly pertinent to the proposed ban, as 99% of seized illegal vapes are single-use, and is a particular concern for human health impacts. The professional association for Trading Standards bodies found a third of vapes sold, which includes single-use vapes, have incorrect or absent health warnings, over-capacity tank sizes, a higher than permitted concentration of nicotine, contain Cannabidiol oil (CBD), or are incorrectly labelled. Vape users seeking an alternative to single-use vapes must be encouraged to adopt reusable alternatives from legitimate sellers to prevent the unintended outcome of this policy increasing illegal sales of single-use vapes.

6.2 Monitoring and evaluation

It is recommended that a formal monitoring and evaluation plan is drawn up as soon as possible, with the collation of baseline data treated as a priority in advance of the introduction of the proposal.

Clear objectives should be set to confirm what the policy is expected to achieve and the timeframes in which it should aim to do so. These objectives can then form the basis of an evaluation. Consultation responses from the public and other stakeholders should be used to help inform these objectives.

6.2.1 Monitoring

It should be agreed at an early stage which organisations will be responsible for gathering monitoring data on the impact of the proposed policy, alongside wider behaviour change relating to smoking and vaping behaviours in Scotland. Organisations such as ASH Scotland should be engaged to make use of existing datasets.

Indicators to be monitored could include, but will not necessarily be limited to:

  • Sales of reusable vape devices;
  • Sales of reusable vape refills;
  • Sales of cigarettes;
  • Estimates of illegal sales of single-use vapes including shipments seized;
  • Number of adult vape users;
  • Data on vape users e.g. age, location, smoker/non-smoker etc;
  • Number of underage vape users;
  • Enforcement data on recorded incidents of breach of regulations;
  • Frequency of single-use vapes in ground litter;
  • Frequency of refill containers and reusable vape related litter items;
  • Public perceptions of vape related litter.

6.2.2 Evaluation

An ex-post evaluation should be conducted to make an overall assessment of the policy and its success in meeting its environmental and wider objectives. The evaluation should comprise the following stages:

1. Scoping

Prior to commencing the evaluation, a clear theory of exactly what the policy set out to achieve should be agreed. In this instance, the primary objective of the policy is to restrict the consumption of single-use vapes in Scotland. Wider environmental objectives have been suggested within this assessment.

A series of evaluation questions should be agreed upon at this stage.

Potential side effects, unintended consequences, and rebound effects should also be considered.

2. Evaluation Design A multi-criteria evaluation of the charge should be designed based on the following criteria:

  • Environmental effectiveness: does the ban achieve its environmental objectives?
  • Cost-Benefit: Are the overall benefits of the ban worth the costs to various actors?
  • Equity: How are the benefits and costs associated with the policy distributed across society?

Intervention theories should be used to develop more granular research questions which scrutinise whether assumptions made throughout the design of the restrictions hold true.

Data collection methods may include interviews with retailers, producers, and wholesalers; surveys of vape users, smokers, and the general public; questionnaires; focus groups; and literature reviews.

Appropriate methods of data analysis should then be determined, with the limitations of each method carefully considered.

3. Conducting the evaluation

Once the evaluation has been fully scoped out and designed, the data collection can begin in line with the methods selected at step 2. Once the analysis has been completed, a report should be compiled with the key findings, including lessons learned and recommendations. The Scottish Government will be responsible for sharing the findings with relevant stakeholders as deemed appropriate.



Back to top