Scotland mulls regulating public vaping and e-cig retail

Ecigs on the mile? Flickr byronv2The e-cig sector appears to anticipate no radical regulation emerging from a consultation currently underway in Scotland.

Under consideration is whether e-cigarettes should be banned in public places; whether there should be a minimum age for purchase; whether e-cigarette retailers should be required to register; and whether there should be limits on advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes beyond what the EU’s Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) will mandate from 2016.

The consultation closes on 2nd January and the Scottish government expects to release the results of the consultation in March.

A spokesperson for Aqua Vapour – a vape store retailer in Edinburgh – told ECigIntelligence that the consultation is unlikely to result in any surprising legislation. Regulations will be based on common sense and in line with current industry best practice, he said.

“Prevention of sales to under-18s and warning labels for e-liquids are already standard in the sector. The consultation probably won’t lead to any surprises,” he added.

Speaking from the floor at a conference in London, meanwhile, Katherine Devlin – president of the e-cig trade body ECITA – indicated that she was enthused by the level of support for e-cigs shown by influential stakeholders in the Scottish process.

A Scottish government spokesperson told ECigIntelligence: “The Scottish government believes that electronic cigarettes need appropriate regulation. While we accept that the devices may potentially help people smoke fewer cigarettes, or even stop altogether, there is concern that they could also re-normalise smoking.

“That is why we are seeking views on a number of potential changes to the regulation of electronic cigarettes and strengthening tobacco control in Scotland.”

On the table

Law-makers are considering all aspects of e-cigarette use in public places without proposing specific bans or restrictions. “The use and availability of e-cigarettes continues to be a rapidly developing area. We are therefore also inviting evidence and views…to inform future policy development,” the government said.

Age restrictions would most likely be similar to those found elsewhere in the UK and internationally. Scotland would prevent e-cigarettes from being sold to under-18s either directly or through proxy (having an adult buy them). The law could also require customers appearing to be under 25 to be challenged to provide proof of age.

Further regulations could require e-cigarette retailers to register in Scotland’s Tobacco Retailer Register –enabling recognition for regulatory purposes without requiring full-blown licensing.

Advertising limitations being discussed include the use of billboards, leaflets, point of sale, and domestic event sponsorship. Also covered could be promotions such as free distribution, nominal pricing and brand stretching – using a brand’s identity for products or services that are not directly related to the core product.

What This Means: Since the end of the last century, Scotland’s devolution from the central UK government has given it the right to set many of its own laws and regulations, and in some cases they differ significantly from London’s.

Scotland will still be subject to EU e-cigarette regulation in the form of the TPD when it comes into force in 2016. But beyond the measures specified in the TPD – which it cannot greatly modify – it will be able to decide whether it wants to take a different tack from the rest of the UK. This consultation could influence that, and interested parties should take advantage of the opportunity.

– Freddie Dawson ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Byronv2

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