6 June 2023
Children’s doctors are calling on the Scottish government to ban disposable vapes.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said single-use e-cigarettes are likely to damage young lungs and are bad for the environment.
Dr Kenneth Macleod, consultant respiratory paediatrician at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital, said ministers “would regret” not acting sooner.
First Minister Humza Yousaf has said a complete ban is not off the table.
Mr Yousaf said an expert group was looking at the issue, with a report expected to be published later this month.
The RCPCH said paediatricians were “increasingly concerned” about the growing popularity of vapes.
Dr Macleod told BBC Scotland: “We’re seeing enough evidence to be worried. We’ll never know the true effect until we leave it many years.
“But similar to the arguments around cigarette smoking 50 or 60 years ago, we don’t want to wait until we see the consequences.
“We want to act now on the suspicions that we have and there’s some evidence that says e-cigarettes do cause lung inflammation.”
Scottish government data shows that one in 10 15-year-olds in Scotlandregularly use e-cigarettes – up from 3% in 2018.
And research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that young people who vape are more likely to take up smoking.
Paediatricians have warned that e-cigarettes can be just as addictive, if not more so, than traditional cigarettes.
Dr Macleod said: “Vaping is promoted to young people through advertising, through flavours, through colours, through social media.
“So young people are taking it up as a recreational activity, they’re not using it to quit smoking – they’re using it because it looks fun and it tastes nice.
“But the worry is that because of the nicotine content, once they start, they can’t stop.”
He said a condition called e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI) is caused by inhaled chemicals irritating the airways, leading to a large inflammatory response which can make the lungs become swollen.
This leads to coughing, difficulty breathing, fevers and shivering. He said that in some cases people have needed breathing machines to support them.
“It’s a big worry that e-cigarettes can cause this type of reaction,” he added.
“I think we would regret not acting sooner and not raising awareness if we saw problems further down the line.”
In total 21 out of 32 councils in Scotland support a ban on single-use vapes,
Anti-smoking campaigners at Ash Scotland said that the European Union is likely to ban disposable e-cigarettes by the end of 2026.
The group said Scotland “has a great opportunity to re-establish itself as a leading public health nation” by bringing in its own ban in 2024.
The Scottish government said it had commissioned a review of the environmental impacts of single-use vapes to be published later this month.
A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We are considering a range of options, including a potential ban on single-use vapes.
“The review also considers other options, for example increasing access to responsible disposal options or improved product design.
“Any future approach will be determined by consideration of the options presented.
“In the meantime, we would urge everyone who uses these products to make sure they are disposed of properly.”