A UK-wide ban on disposable vapes has come about at “lightning speed” because of immense pressure from Scotland, a campaigner has claimed.

Powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament are set to be used to implement the ban after the Scottish Government backed the recommendations of a four-nations consultation on vaping and smoking in young people.

Measures across the UK are set to include restrictions on vape flavours and promotion as well as changing age limits for buying tobacco, meaning no one born on or after January 1, 2009, can ever legally be sold tobacco.

Environmental campaigner Laura Young, who began calling for a ban after she shared her experience of finding 55 disposable vapes in an hour as she walked through Dundee last January, believes the reason the UK Government has made the move is because of how influential Scotland has been in raising awareness of their threat to the environment and health.

She told The National: “There was no leg to stand on other than to say a ban is what is being done.

READ MORE: Single-use vapes to be banned in Scotland, Lorna Slater announces

“There was so much pressure as well. We had all the councils in Scotland – 29 out of 32 – saying they wanted to ban them and when you look at the councillors it was across all parties.

“We also had the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Scotland report into disposable vapes, they were the first ones to publish evidence on this."

The report found 10.8% of the adult population in Scotland in 2022 were regular users of e-cigarettes and of these, more than a quarter (27%) were estimated to be users of single-use e-cigarettes.

It additionally found the lithium polymer batteries used in some of the most popular e-cigarettes could be recharged 500 times if the product allowed it. 

Asked if the decision to ban them came about because of Scotland’s influence, she added: “Absolutely. Scotland was the first place to be talking about it.

“I'm from Scotland and a lot of the groups involved in the campaign, a lot of them were the Scottish arm of the organisation they’re from.

“We had a lot of MSPs taking this on so the pressure has absolutely come from Scotland in being able to influence. I’m very proud of that and it does mean we’re hopefully not going to have arguments about the Internal Market Act.”

The National:

Young, who is from East Renfrewshire, told The National back in September she feared the UK Government might block any Scottish efforts to introduce legislation given its recent record of blocking the Deposit Return Scheme.

The Scottish Government committed to launching a consultation on banning the sale of disposable vapes in its Programme for Government, but Young sensed at the time England was very “pro-vape” and would not consider the same move.

Thankfully those fears have been averted and Young, whose discovery of 55 vapes in an hour happened just over a year ago, said she has been amazed at the speed of movement on the issue.

The 27-year-old said: “When you look at other campaigns for anything, they take years. This has gone at lightning speed and it’s fantastic we’ve seen very quickly that this is a new emerging problem and we need to tackle it.

“It’s great we’ve realised working together is the best way we can do this. It would just be playing politics if they [the UK Government] decided not to do it, it’s so clear cut.

“Scotland has been really influential in bringing the UK Government along on this.”

Disposable vapes come with a heap of environmental problems beyond just being litter, including that they are a major fire risk because of flammable batteries that cannot easily be disposed of.

They cannot be put in general waste, normal recycling bins or in battery waste at a recycling centre and can only be disposed of as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) waste.

READ MORE: UNRWA: Scottish Government has 'not paused funding'

By law, every shop that sells vapes is meant to take them back, but this costs money to provide and many choose not to do it.

The number of children and young people trying out vaping has also doubled in the last year.

Vapes are unsafe for children to use due to containing highly addictive nicotine which can harm brain development, while research found some vapes confiscated from school pupils contained high levels of lead, nickel and chromium.

Young said it is now paramount that as legalisation is drawn up that regulations are made watertight and that learnings from it are taken forward as more disposable electronic products come onto the market.

She said: “When we talk about banning single-use vapes, we need to classify what that is. For example, if the vaping industry shove a charging port at the bottom of it, does that get them out of a ban?

“We need to make sure there’s clear cut definition of single use vapes. If you look at lighters for example, technically they are refillable, but who does that? They’re so cheap and it's such a hassle that no one does it, so that’s what we don’t want. It all needs to be crystal clear.

“I am also quite concerned about disposable electronics in general. We need to wary of what comes next.

“We need to be looking at all emerging electronics and nicotine products and asking ‘how are you making these responsibly’.”