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Council / Councillors show support for ban on single-use vapes

Photo: Dave Donaldson

SHETLAND Islands Council has become the latest local authority to call for ban on the sale of single-use vapes in Scotland.

It follows a motion brought to a meeting of the full council on Friday morning.

Shetland Central councillor Davie Sandison, who presented the motion, said there were both environmental and health concerns over disposable vapes.

There was also a particular concern over their use by children.

It highlights that there is evidence vaping is taking place in Shetland’s school grounds, despite the fact that these products should only be sold to people aged 18 and over.

It comes after members of a local eco youth group wrote to all councillors asking them if they would consider calling for a ban of disposable vapes.

Youth worker Laura Hughes said she was “delighted” by the outcome of the motion and said it was a positive experience for the young folk who wrote to councillors on the issue.

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Youth worker keen to see councillors back campaign to ban single-use vapes

The motion was supported by environment and transport committee chair Moraig Lyall and was approved by members with no objection.

A number of other Scottish councils have agreed to call for a ban on disposable, single-use vapes.

A vape, or e-cigarette, is a device that allows people to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke, and they are often flavoured.

The motion was also keen to see enforcement of regulations around vapes, as well as greater education on the consequences of using them.

At Friday’s meeting Green councillor Alex Armitage, who is also a paediatrician, said he was “really concerned” by the rise in popularity of vaping and called for greater regulations such as plain packaging.

He said vapes were “highly effective” at getting the addictive nicotine into the brain.

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“Whilst I think that these addictive drugs should be legal and should be regulated…I don’t believe in banning vaping at all, but it needs to be far better regulated,” Armitage said.

Councillor Lyall said the health consequences of vaping are “likely to be significant”.

She said there was a “clear littering issue” and that recycling of the products was difficult.

Lyall encouraged officials in the Scottish Government working on the issue to “take this forward as quickly as possible”.

Sandison’s motion read: “That the council calls upon the Scottish Government to implement a ban on the sale of single use vapes, on the basis of both environmental and health related concerns, particularly for children, including their highly addictive nature.

“That the council recognise that the rapid rise in the sale of single use vapes has resulted in significant littering with a combination of single use plastics and small lithium batteries, which are difficult to recycle, and call for disposal points to be provided in any retail outlet selling these products.

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“The council recognise the amount of use by children under the age of 18, which is illegal under current law, deplore the clear marketing of these products at younger consumers.

“There is evidence this use is also happening within school grounds. 

“That with immediate effect the council instructs its trading standards and waste services staff to ensure enforcement of existing regulations on the control of the sale, retailing and safe disposal of these products for all businesses in Shetland.

“That the council urgently implements a programme of educational resources to be rolled out in schools (including upper primary) and through youth and community groups, before the end of the current school term and over the summer break, highlighting the consequences of vaping.

“That the council recognises the work of the Scalloway Youth & Community Centre Eco Club in raising awareness of these issues.”

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Youth worker Hughes, who co-runs the Scalloway eco club, said after the meeting that she feels “so proud” of what the group has achieved.

“Regardless of what the outcome was today, I hope this would still have been a positive learning experience for young people,” she said.

“Having councillors take the time to respond to us either by letter or email was so rewarding and it was incredible to feel heard and supported.

“I hope it inspires young people in future that if they are passionate about something, they can contact the council.”

Hughes also spent the month of February picking up discarded disposable vapes on the streets of Scalloway – and she was left with many handfuls of plastic cases as well as batteries and pieces of metal.

During debate Shetland South member Robbie McGregor praised the efforts of young people in the eco club who helped compile the letter to councillors.

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“It’s great to see young people having a go at influencing policy,” he said.

Lerwick South member John Fraser also asked if there were the resources available to facilitate greater education on the issue in schools.

But Sandison said there was already work underway to try to look at what resources will be available.

Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Stephen Leask reflected on when stricter regulations were imposed on the marketing of alcopops and said the vapes are “no different” in targeting young people.

Meanwhile Shetland South member Bryan Peterson said local shops are now selling far more disposable vapes than of reusable ones.

He added that it is a challenge for the local shop owners as they are a source of income.

Peterson said he did not want the council to be “guilting” local shops – “but I would urge them to think the repercussions of stocking such a variety of well marketed nicotine products”.

Sandison highlighted however that there was an increasing number of vapes being sold online – and reminded members that it is illegal for them to be bought by under 18s.

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