THE Internal Market Act still has the potential to scupper a disposable vape ban in Scotland despite the fact the UK Government looks poised to prohibit the products, a campaigner has said.

UK ministers are reportedly set to reveal a proposal to ban the sale of single-use vapes as part of a Department of Health and Social Care consultation next week.

It comes after Laura Young, a leading campaigner against disposable vapes, expressed fears an Internal Market Act spat could be sparked if Scotland wanted to introduce a ban on its own.

The Scottish Government announced plans to launch a consultation on whether to implement a ban in its Programme for Government last week and said if one were to be put in place, it would likely require a similar exemption to the Internal Market Act as the deposit return scheme (DRS) did.

Young told The National England had a "pro-vape" attitude and insisted a ban could end up as a political football given it crosses over reserved and devolved areas of government.

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She said while she was pleasantly surprised at the UK Government’s latest stance, she still had reservations about whether there will be consensus across borders going forward.

She said: “The UK Internal Market Act is not as big a worry as it was [after this], but I do still have concerns.

“My first concern is that the UK Government comes out very strongly wanting a ban, then there’s a consultation process to work out what that will look like, and then there’s a huge lobby from industry and business that kind of squashes it.

“That could then trigger an Internal Market Act debate because if the UK Government suddenly decides ‘we’re not going to go for this now’, then that could still happen [if Scotland still does want to ban].

The National: Humza Yousaf announced plans to consult on banning the sale of disposable vapes in his Programme for Government Humza Yousaf announced plans to consult on banning the sale of disposable vapes in his Programme for Government (Image: PA)

“The other concern is that it gets punted quite far into the future so that its potentially a different government’s problem. It’s not likely to be a Conservative government the next time we have a General Election and Labour have not really spoken out on this strongly, so if in 2024/25 this is then handed over, does it just get binned?

“There is still potential that if the UK doesn’t end up going for it that they could stop any nation in the UK from doing it. So it is still a worry, but it is positive they [UK Government] are looking at it and it’s a sign Scotland has been championing something that is clearly having an influence.”

Young added she felt more activity and engagement around the problem in Scotland had caused the UK Government to spark into action.

She said: “There is an overwhelmingly positive response to what Scotland has been doing. Everyone is thanking the Scottish Government for talking about it, putting on these stakeholder events, and I think the UK Government is seeing that.

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“I think that they are seeing they can also bring about this positive change.”

Young, 27, got the nation’s attention in January when she highlighted the amount of litter disposable vapes were creating in Dundee – after she found 55 of them during an hour-long walk.

There is increasing concern about the environmental damage the items are causing given they contain copper wires and lithium batteries, making them difficult to dispose of responsibly.

Research from recycling campaign group Material Focus has found five million disposable vapes are thrown away each week in the UK and only 17% of vapers recycle the products in the correct bins.

Equally, there is now an epidemic of children as young as primary school age trying out e-cigarettes, creating a major public health concern.

Young said based on the number of Scottish councils  - 29 out of 32 - that have called for a ban, while all but one have discussed motions on the issue, it is clearly not a party political matter.

She added she hopes parties on both sides of the border can see this as “bigger than politics” and learn from the DRS fallout about how to handle conflict and ensure it doesn’t lead to key policies crumbling.

“I think because it spans across public health, environment and health, it’s important we do have the same policy and regulations because it’s just going to get confusing otherwise. We don’t want any regulations undermined,” Young said.

“This is bigger than politics. One of the great things, from a Scotland perspective, is that apart from one council, every other council has discussed this at meetings and motions have been put forward by Greens, LibDems, Labour, SNP, Tories, independents. Clearly this is not a party political issue.

“I think we need to remember that if we let politics get in the way, we’ll see continued waste piling up, we’ll see more fires at waste sites, waste sites struggling to get insurance. Do we want to see all that?

“There’s a lesson to be learnt from DRS in how to handle when there is conflict. We don’t have any kind of DRS now, we didn’t even get part of it, so I hope if there was any conflict, we can still try and initiate some part of it [a ban].”