A ban on displays of vapes in Scotland’s shops would be irrational and hit disadvantaged communities hardest, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) says.
The convenience store trade organisation has highlighted its objections in an official response to a Scottish Government consultation on the advertising and promotion of vaping products.
Measures proposed to tighten rules include a move that would outlaw in-store promotional displays of vapes and associated products.
SGF argues that the potential new policy would not just hit its members’ businesses hard, but hamper the drive to make Scotland smoke-free by 2034.
In its response, SGF Head of Public Affairs Dr John Lee, said: “This consultation has been launched against a backdrop of concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders that Scotland – as with the rest of the UK – will not meet the aspiration of a tobacco-free generation by 2034.
“Indeed, Cancer Research UK has warned that this target could be missed by as much as 16 years if current trends continue, with the gap being wider in more disadvantaged communities.
“Within this context it is simply not rational for the Scottish Government to consider restricting what is essentially a consumer-driven market for vaping products.”
Throughout the consultation period, SGF highlighted its concerns that to essentially remove vaping products from public view would effectively hide a less harmful alternative to smoking and proven way of helping people quit cigarettes.
Setting out the importance of the promotion of vapes in supporting the drive to make Scotland tobacco-free, SGF said: “Advertising and promotion of vaping products can be seen as anti-smoking advertising.”
It added: “It is widely recognised that smoking disproportionately impacts on people living in Scotland’s more disadvantaged communities and that essentially smoking is an issue of health inequality.
“Given the widespread acceptance of this among policymakers it seems to make no sense to restrict the market for vaping products. Doing so will simply close off access to a highly-effective cessation/transition devices and will simply perpetuate these long-standing and seemingly intractable health inequalities.”
The consultation closed on 28 April.