Scottish health chiefs call for minimum pricing on e-cigarettes on tobacco

Scottish heath chiefs have accused tobacco companies of "keeping prices artificially low" to entice young people to start smoking, as they called for minimum pricing of tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Scottish health chiefs have called for a minimum price for e-cigarettes and tobacco to be introduced, over concerns prices are kept “artificially low”.

According to Public Health Scotland (PHS) the prevalence of youth vaping has risen rapidly.

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In 2022, 25 per cent of 15-year-olds reported having used a vape in the last 30 days compared to just 7 per cent in 2018.

Police seized illegal tobacco and vapes worth £15k in Lancaster and Morecambe raids.Police seized illegal tobacco and vapes worth £15k in Lancaster and Morecambe raids.
Police seized illegal tobacco and vapes worth £15k in Lancaster and Morecambe raids.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive, and research from the Scottish Government claims it can be a gateway to smoking tobacco.

A PHS report, titled ‘Stopping tobacco smoking and youth vaping’, says research shows that “the tobacco industry keeps the price of its cheapest cigarettes artificially low to encourage smoking initiation and maintenance”, and that e-cigarettes are also cheap.

“The importance of product price is recognised by the UK and Scottish governments,” the report reads.

“One option that could be considered is the introduction of a minimum price for e-cigarettes and a higher minimum price for tobacco.”

The report’s authors also state that restricting the availability of these products “needs consideration”, and supports government proposals for plain packaging for e-cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes are advertised widely in our communities and online,” the report reads.

“E-cigarette advertising could be banned nationally and locally to reduce their appeal.”

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The Scottish Conservatives said that the latest UK budget measures, which introduced a substantial increase in tobacco duty and brought in a tax on vapes, would mean a de facto minimum price for these products anyway.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane added that the Tories “have already called for an update in the law on vaping to bring it into line with the regulations on smoking”.

“We’d also ban the sale of non-nicotine vaping products to under-18s and increase fines for those who illegally sell vapes and tobacco to under-18s – a law that is currently widely flouted and poorly enforced,” said Dr Gulhane.

“The UK Budget introduced a substantial tobacco duty increase and a new duty on vaping products from 2026.

“That makes it crucial that the Scottish government considers measures in the comprehensive Vaping Restrictions Bill we have already proposed.”

There were over 8,000 smoking-related deaths in Scotland in 2022, and smoking is a major cause of health inequalities in Scotland.

People living in the most deprived communities are almost four times more likely to smoke than those living in other areas, according to the 2022 Scottish Health Survey.

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and early death, while according to PHS, “smoking during pregnancy is the leading modifiable risk factor for poor birth outcomes, significantly increasing the risk of preterm birth, stillbirth and death in the first year of life”.

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.



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