E-cigarette bill “welcomed” by campaigners

Anti-tobacco campaigners have welcomed the tabling of the Scottish Government’s e-cigarettes bill, which they said was a “careful balancing act” between restricting young people’s access to electronic cigarettes while maintaining access for smokers seeking help to quit tobacco use.

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Ash Scotland said it believed that e-cigarettes were less damaging to health than traditional cigarettes - but warned that they were not without risk.

The bill, which was tabled with the Scottish Parliament today is to ban sales of e-cigarettes to under-18s. It would also make it an offence for an adult to buy e-cigarettes for a minor.

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Concerns have been raised previously over the safety of the electronic devices, and whether the futuristic design and range of flavours would encourage young people to start smoking conventional tobacco.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, said: “The right regulatory framework for e-cigarettes will require a careful balancing act – seeking to maximise the potential to help people quit tobacco use, while frustrating the commercial interest in recruiting a new generation into nicotine addiction.”

She added: “The urgent priority is to reduce the enormous harm caused by tobacco use. We believe that e-cigarettes will prove to be much less harmful than smoking – so for a smoker to switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes will bring significant health benefits and we welcome the Scottish Government’s attempts not to over-regulate and stifle the e-cigarette market.

“Yet e-cigarettes are not harmless. The best health outcomes will still come from being free of any addictive substance and the measures announced today to protect young people from the commercial interests who would sell them such devices are justified and proportionate.”

The bill also includes measures to make it a statutory offence to smoke within hospital grounds, which could be punishable by fines of up to £1,000.

In supporting documents to the Bill, the Scottish Government said it would cost £307,000 next year in support for bodies to implement the bill.