OUR NHS throughout the UK since March 2020 has been under huge pressures, predominantly due to Covid, but we must also be reminded that things were not great before Covid, not in England & Wales nor Scotland.

Last Thursday, Anas Sarwar made statements in Parliament claiming there have been increases in knee and hip surgery through private health care, paid for by patients, to reduce the delay being experienced for NHS surgery. Indicating this should be free at point of need by NHS.

The driving factors are the ageing population, the pain score of the patient and, of course, the other external factors affecting the population.

The most recent Scottish Census data shows the population of our “bonnie country” is increasing and also ageing, this of course creates more people in need of health care.

I am confident that the NHS will gradually recover and it seems to be doing just that, thanks to the efforts of NHS and health care staff – assuming they get a clear road to cut into the backlogs created by the Covid pandemic.

There is a major worry on the horizon, disposable vapes, which aren’t disposable.

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Vapes were developed to allow smokers to inhale nicotine without the other toxic carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

Disposable vapes with their sweetie flavourings, just like “alcopops” are deliberately targeting younger children below the legal age to smoke tobacco, despite the Scottish Grocers Federation reassurance that robust checks are in place with their members.

The production and marketing target younger children, as we know when creating a habit, the earlier you start the longer it persists.

That’s why sweeties were removed from the checkouts in supermarkets, as it was just too easy.

The long-term effects of vaping are largely unknown, yet a condition called popcorn lung exists.

If we seriously want to protect our kids from long-term addiction, the UK and Scottish governments must get hold of these products, by regulation.

In order to protect our young people we need to remove disposable Vapes and increase the number of Trading Standards officers, checking and fining sellers who break the protection rules.

It must be clearly stated these products are not healthy for the young, but money-making, addictive products. This seems like a regulation failure again.

Alistair Ballantyne