Vaping products - tightening rules on advertising and promoting: consultation analysis

EKOS was commissioned to undertake an independent analysis of responses to tightening rules on advertising and vaping products. The report presents the findings from the public consultation and explains the methodology that was used to analyse responses.

3 Consultation Methodology

3.1 Consultation Respondents

The consultation ran from 3 February 2022 to 29 April 2022 on the Scottish Government Citizen Space website.

A total of 768 responses were received to the consultation. This included:

  • Five respondents who between them submitted a total of 12 duplicate submissions (i.e. each respondent submitted two or three responses). We kept the most recent response from each individual and removed all others. Five responses were kept and seven removed.
  • Four respondents who included inappropriate language throughout their consultation submission. These were removed as invalid.

A total of 11 responses were removed as invalid.

The following analysis has been based on 757 validated responses, Table 1. The vast majority are from individuals.

Table 1: Respondents
Number %
Individuals 714 94.3%
Organisations 43 5.7%


Organisation respondents can be grouped under the following broad categories, Table 2. Membership/professional bodies and public sector organisations make up over two-thirds (67.4%) of all organisation submissions.

Table 2: Organisation respondents
Number %
Membership body 15 34.9%
Public sector 14 32.5%
Private sector 9 21.0%
Third sector 5 11.6%

N=43. EKOS coding in discussion with Scottish Government.

Health improvement is the main area of focus for almost half of organisation submissions (46.6%), Table 3.

Table 3: Organisation respondents
Number %
Health 20 46.6%
Other 8 18.6%
Vaping sector 7 16.2%
Local government 4 9.3%
Tobacco industry 4 9.3%

N=43. EKOS coding in discussion with Scottish Government.

Appendix B provides more detail.

3.2 Declaration of Direct or Indirect Links to the Tobacco Industry

The Scottish Government is a Party to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)[5] and has a duty to protect the development of public health policy from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.

All respondents to the consultation were asked whether they have any direct or indirect links to, or receive funding from, the tobacco industry. Key points to note from Table 4 include:

  • Most respondents reported no links to the tobacco industry (96.0%).
  • Respondents that reported direct links to the tobacco industry are mainly tobacco and/or vape manufacturers, or those who work in retail that sell vape products.
  • Respondents that reported indirect links to the tobacco industry include, for example, those who work in retail that sell vape products, and organisations who receive support from a range of industries, including the tobacco industry.
Table 4: Links to the tobacco industry
Number %
No links 727 96.0%
Direct links 15 2.0%
Indirect links 9 1.2%
Don’t know 6 0.8%

N=757. EKOS changed three “direct links” or “indirect links” to “no links”. This was typically where the respondent note that they vape as an explanation for their original response (all were individuals).


Most of the valid consultation responses were submitted through the Citizen Space website (97.0%). The remainder were submitted to the Scottish Government directly, for example, by email (3.0%). Where this was the case, the Scottish Government added these submissions manually.

All responses were moderated and reviewed separately by the Scottish Government Tobacco Control Team.

EKOS exported consultation responses from Citizen Space into Microsoft Excel for data cleaning, review, and analysis. The analysis seeks to identify the most common themes and issues. It does not report on every single point raised by respondents. Equal weighting has been given to all responses. This includes the range of views, from large organisations that operate on a national, UK, or international level, to individual’s viewpoints.

There are both points of agreement and disagreement between those respondents who support and those who do not support the Scottish Government proposals.

This analysis report quotes and paraphrases some of the comments received. However, this does not indicate that these comments will be acted upon or given greater weight than others.

Where the respondent has given permission for their submission to be published these will be made available on the Citizen Space website (Appendix C).

3.3 Limitations

The following limitations to the public consultation should be noted:

  • Respondents to any public consultation or survey are self-selecting, and the responses may not be representative of the population as a whole. Some respondent views are not impartial.
  • The depth of responses to consultation questions is varied – some respondents provide full and detailed responses, while others provide short or single sentence responses. Some, but not all, respondents provide links to published evidence or research in support of points raised.
  • Not every respondent provides a response to each question (e.g. not all answer the closed questions). Further, some submissions (e.g. non-Citizen Space responses) provide responses that have not been set out in line with the consultation questions.
  • A campaign response was not considered to be a significant issue. It more likely reflects membership bodies (and others) pushing the public consultation out to their members and/or wider networks. Further, some organisations worked with others to prepare a joint response in addition to submitting a response from their own organisation.
  • There was a technical problem with the Citizen Space website. It was not possible for respondents to submit an open-ended response (i.e. free text) to Question 2 (Do you agree with proposal to extend restrictions on advertising these products in the ways described above?) or Question 3 (Do you agree with proposal that in-store promotional displays should be banned?). While it was possible for all respondents to answer the closed questions, the qualitative analysis presented in this report for these two questions is limited to non-Citizen-Space submissions. Despite this limitation many of the points made are echoed in later sections so this is not felt to be a significant limitation of the consultation.
  • A few consultation questions may have been misinterpreted by respondents:
    • Question 5b - Should offering vapes at very reduced prices be an offence? It should be noted that there may have been some confusion with this question. The question is designed to ask views on the practice of cutting prices (e.g. say from £50 to £15) on kit to encourage people to try the products and buy them. Some respondents may have interpreted this question, for example, to concern offering end of stock items at lower prices.
    • Question 7 - Do you support the proposal to introduce exemptions to allow advertising at trade-only events? Several respondents who did not support this proposal (i.e. answered “No” to the closed question) provide comments in support of the proposal. This may reflect the fact that the pro-vaping response in all previous questions was “No” and some respondents may have answered “No” to Question 7 in line with their previous responses. Support for this proposal may therefore be higher.
    • Question 8b - Do you support the proposal that defences should be as outlined in the Consultation Document? In terms of the qualitative feedback, most respondents repeated or referred to their responses to previous questions. The comments mostly relate to their general views on tightening advertising restrictions rather than the defences to the offences.

3.4 Polarising Views

The consultation demonstrated polarised views.

Individual responses to closed questions are typically split 50:50 (i.e. roughly the same proportion of individuals support the proposals as those individuals who do not support the proposals).

In terms of organisation respondents, those who support the proposals are in the main local government and health organisations. Those organisations who are less likely to support the proposals are the vaping sector, tobacco industry, and other related organisations (e.g. those that sell tobacco and vaping related products).

Respondent views may reflect their knowledge of, or interpretation of, the existing evidence base. Those respondents who are concerned about potential short and longer term adverse consequences of vaping being in favour of the proposal and those who believe that these products offer greater benefits than harms being against the proposal.

Please refer to Appendix A for the breakdown of responses to the closed questions.



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